OEA president comes to Lawton

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The president of the Oklahoma Education Association came to Lawton on Wednesday to talk to local teachers about the possible walkout and update them on what's going on.

Arlene Cudd, a local educator and the president of the Professional Educators Association of Lawton Empty, said over the years all she's heard is empty promises of raises and something being done about education funding.

"At the end of the year nothing is done and it's the same salary schedule," Cudd said.

It's a sentiment OEA president Alicia Priest agreed with. She's hoping that soon changes not only for her but teachers and their students across the state.

"Our kids deserve better than what they're getting in public education right now because of the funding crisis that our legislature has created," she said.

Priest said they need funding to get textbooks and to retain teachers. Cudd added that while the teachers are resourceful, there comes a time when textbooks need to be replaced.

"Some of the schools their textbooks are in terrible shape but thank goodness for duct tape that has held them together," Cudd said.

Priest said the changes that would come if lawmakers work something out would be great for everybody.

"We would be able to hire more teachers, we'd have necessary supplies for the kids," she said. "When we have smaller class sizes, there's less friction, fewer discipline issues, I mean it would be amazing."

But the walkout could cause some stress for families before it the situation gets better. Priest said the safety and wellbeing are teachers first priority so they're trying to have a plan for students if the walkout happens.

"So we've been working with community groups across the state to make sure the kids have the meals they need," she said. "That there is food secure and that we are setting up programs with churches, inner faith groups, and community centers across the state for childcare services for those who can't provide it for their own children."

Both Priest and Cudd hope legislators will increase teacher pay and restore funding cuts so the walkout doesn't happen.

On Wednesday night, the state Senate passed a 12.7 percent pay raise, which would be funded through increased taxes on cigarettes and fuel, as well as raising the gross production tax on oil and gas to 4 percent. The Oklahoma Educators Association tweeted their disappointment after the plan passed, saying it was not the significant funding schools need. Teachers are asking for a $10,000 pay raise and Priest said they're not willing to accept anything less.

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