Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Teachers and other public employees in Oklahoma rallied last night ahead of the State House of Representatives voted down the Step Up Oklahoma proposal that would have raised taxes in order to give teachers a raise. Now, momentum is building for a potential teachers' strike. (Photo: @StepUpOklahoma/Twitter)

As West Virginia Rages, 'Tipping Point' in Oklahoma Has Teachers Planning Walkout of Their Own

"A walkout would be the last resort, but we want more money for education in the state, that means more money for supplies, more staff, and pay raises so teachers will stay."

Julia Conley

What is happening in West Virginia may not necessarily stay in West Virginia.

As thousands of teachers in the state occupied the state house on the eighth day of a walkout that has closed every public school in West Virginia, momentum is gathering among teachers in Oklahoma for a potential strike to protest their low pay and high healthcare costs.

A Change.org petition has gathered more than 25,000 signatures of teachers and supporters who object to the state's low teacher salaries—the lowest average pay for educators in the nation, at $42,460—with hundreds of signatures being added on Monday.

"We really are at a tipping point."—Chuck McCauley, Bartlesville, Okla. School Superintendent

"Oklahoma needs new teachers, Oklahoma needs to retain current teachers," reads the petition. "Teachers in Oklahoma need a raise of $10,000 per year to be competetive regionally. Our neighbor states are paying much more and luring away our best talent."

Talk of a potential strike grew last month after a proposal called Step Up Oklahoma was defeated in the state House of Representatives. The plan would have raised taxes on the oil and gas industry as well as cigarettes, fuel, and wind energy, in order to give the state's teachers a $5,000 raise.

A teacher from the city of Stillwater, Okla., started a Facebook page called "Oklahoma Teacher Walkout—The Time Is Now!" last week, gaining more than 38,000 members in a matter of days.

"A walkout would be the last resort, but we want more money for education in the state, that means more money for supplies, more staff, and pay raises so teachers will stay," the group's leader, Alberto Morejon, told the Huffington Post. "Teachers are leaving left and right, we're the lowest paid in the country."

Teachers are planning to walk out of their classrooms as early as April 2.

In the local press and on social media, that state's educators have been sharing struggles mirrored by those of West Virginia's teachers, who began their walkout on February 22, demanding a funding solution for the state's public employees insurance program and a salary increase. In both states, teachers have reported the need to take on side jobs in order to make ends meet while districts have lamented the loss of qualified teachers who flee for better pay.

"I know I'm not the only one who has to do this. What are your 'side-gigs?'" wrote one teacher in Morejon's Facebook group, gathering 500 responses within hours.

At a school board meeting in Bartlesville, Okla., last week Superintendent Chuck McCauley shared that 30 school districts are considering a "suspension of schools to support teachers" in the event of a walkout. According to the Tulsa World, about 25 percent of the state's schoolchildren attend school in the districts in question.

"We really are at a tipping point," McCauley told the World. "We are hiring people we wouldn't have even interviewed just a few years ago because there aren't more qualified applicants. Bottom line, that's impacting kids and it's below the standard of what's expected in our community."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Perverse' Supreme Court Ruling 'Effectively Ensures That Innocent People Will Remain Imprisoned'

"This is radical. This is horrifying. This is extremely scary," said one public defender.

Jessica Corbett ·


Arizona, West Virginia Residents Risk Arrest to Demand End to Filibuster

"Our democracy is on life support," said campaigners. "There's no time to ask nicely."

Julia Conley ·


Campaign Launches 'Summer of Action' to Protect Medicare From Stealth Privatization

Medicare "is under threat today from the constant efforts of private insurance companies and for-profit investors who want to privatize it and turn it into yet another shameful opportunity to make money," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Kenny Stancil ·


Florida Student's Graduation Speech About Curly Hair Highlights Cruelty of 'Don't Say Gay' Law

Having to use a euphemism to discuss his identity "was a really dehumanizing decision," said Zander Moricz. "I just had to be clever about it—but I shouldn't have had to be."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Ashamed' of 'Warmongering' and 'Lies,' Veteran Russian Diplomat Resigns

"Am I concerned about the possible reaction from Moscow?" said Boris Bondarev. "I have to be concerned about it."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo