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Joining Nationwide Teacher Rebellion, Tens of Thousands Rally for Education in Oklahoma

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Tens of thousands of teachers planning massive rallies and classroom walkouts

Tens of thousands of Oklahoma and Kentucky teachers ditched classrooms Monday to rally at their state capitals, demanding more education funding for students.

Thousands of teachers in Kentucky are expected to turn out at a demonstration today at the state Capitol in Frankfort, following Friday's sickout.

The $450 million tax package passed by the Oklahoma legislature last week was created to fund pay raises for teachers, school support staff, and state employees.

Thompson says teachers need to know that lawmakers aren't going to renege on their pay raise and their promise to boost school funding over the next few years.

'We've all heard stories from students, parents, and teachers affected by eleven years of cuts to our classrooms, ' Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said in a Facebook video message on the eve of the walkout.

Before state legislators passed a pay raise last Thursday, Oklahoma teachers had not received a state raise in decade.

The teacher's union has defended the staff member's actions.

Monday's scheduled strikes follow a growing trend of teacher walkouts across the country.

Waldrop's daughter, Lauren, held a sign that read, "My mom shouldn't have to work two jobs to support my family and yours".

Norman High School teacher Sean Thompson says it's this kind of political maneuvering that's driving him to rally at the Capitol today. "A pay raise is just a perk".

When I first spoke with Cagle after arriving in Oklahoma, he was driving back from a meeting with teachers in a remote area of the Oklahoma panhandle. The Oklahoma Policy Institute reported that Oklahoma has slashed education funding by $180 million since 2008. Educators are organizing and publicly pressuring state lawmakers over issues like education funding, teacher salaries and pension reform.

Most public school districts were already closed Monday for spring break, but the threat of another round of sick-outs caused more than a dozen school districts that were supposed to be open to close instead.

Teachers said they may not be in the classroom, but they're hoping to still teach the public during this historical moment.

"If this budget is not in the best interest of public education students and public service, then we will react", Winkler said.

"What happened in West Virginia is inspiring for sure", a spokesperson for the Kentucky Education Association told ABC News Sunday.

"They're hungry for federal dollars ... and the problem is, and I feel, in states like ours where the education system is literally starving, people are going to be more inclined in times of need to make choices that are not actually good for them", Peters said.

Oklahoma is among the bottom three states for teacher salaries. The state teachers' union has been demanding $10,000 raises for teachers; $5,000 raises for support staff; and $200 million in educational funding.

"But not only have I not had a raise, I haven't had any new equipment either", Deming said.

Teachers were incensed by passage of a bill last week that mandates a hybrid pension plan with individual accounts for new hires.

"We've been cut over 28% in the last 10 years in education funding, and our schools just can't maintain all of the supplies, instructional materials, textbooks, even copy paper", she said.

Bevin, a Republican who has not announced whether he will sign the legislation, tweeted in support of the pension bill, saying public workers owe "a deep debt of gratitude" to lawmakers.

"I've really enjoyed the classes I've taught here", he said.

Volunteers from the community have ranged from retired teachers to local church members, members of the OU community and individuals who are supportive of teachers, Birdsong said. "Kids do a lot of sports here and there is lots of work experience too", said Eagle Arts High School Principal, Ms Gab McIntosh.

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