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Oklahoma teachers feel optimistic about classroom funding after $1,200 pay raise passes House

Posted at 8:28 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 23:17:39-05

TULSA, Okla. — It's a new task for educators this year, tracking dozens of bills aimed at changing Oklahoma's education system.

Teachers said the $1,200 pay raise that passed the house on Thursday is an improvement, but many are relieved hearing legislators talk about classroom funding.

"Having 32 thirteen-year-olds in one class is a struggle sometimes. So being able to have even 25, 26 kids in the class makes a huge difference," Union 8th Grade Center teacher Betty Collins said.

Limited student dollars leads to overcrowding, as well as educators spending hundreds on supplies and curriculum. In some schools the only thing covered by the state are textbooks and desks.

"It's the combination of it being chaos at work and not getting paid anything that's really turning teachers away from the profession," Collins said.

In the last year the amount of newly certified teachers grew from 1,900 to almost 3,000. In the wake of this, multiple other bills are aimed at everything from increasing support staff to student spending.

"We're appreciative of any progress we can make but also want them conscious that it's going to take a lot to get where we need to be to really keep teachers here in the state and to provide our students with the same education that they're getting in other states," Union 6th/7th Grade Center teacher Brendan Jarvis said.

Collins said her eight-year-old wants to have her own class one day. At this point, she's having a hard time encouraging this dream.

"Being a teacher myself I don't want to see my daughter go into the profession because I don't want to see her struggle the way that I struggled," Collins said.

Oklahoma's teacher task force is asking for $150 million for classroom funding this year. The current suggestion by the governor is splitting close to $80 million across all core services.

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