What It Was Like At The Oklahoma State Capitol During The Teachers’ Walkout (HBO)

Tens of thousands of teachers, educators and supporters descended on the Capitol building in Oklahoma this morning as part of a long-planned school work stoppage.
The protests happened despite the passage of House Bill 1010, a revenue package that increased teacher pay by an average of $6100 and added $50 million dollars of funding for textbooks, supplies and student activities. After signing the bill this past Thursday, Governor Mary Fallin declared it a “historic evening for the state of Oklahoma,” and intimated that a work stoppage might have been averted.
Those hopes were almost immediately dashed.
Teachers organizations around the state, led by the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), just about unanimously called for the walkout to go on as planned, citing the fact that the legislature had only come up with $50 million of the $200 million the teachers say they need to pay for everything from textbooks to supplies to extra-curricular activities.
“It amounts to about one textbook per child and that will not solve the funding crisis in education,” Alicia Priest, President of the OEA, said.
VICE News followed Kambra Reynolds, a second grade teacher in Norman, as she went with her fellow educators to the Capitol on the first day of their walkout.

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Educators Say Oklahoma Teacher Salary Increase Bill Is Too Little Too Late (HBO)

This past Monday night, the Oklahoma House of Representative passed House Bill 1010 and raised taxes for the first time in 28 years.

Much of the revenue will go to fund Oklahoma’s schools and raise teacher salaries by an average of $6,000 a year. On Wednesday night, with the threat of a mass teacher walkout looming over their heads, Oklahoma’s senate ratified the bill and put it on the desk of Governor Mary Fallin who, in a joyous press conference, said there would be a “signing party” on Thursday.

The bill was supposed to avert the teacher walkout that has been in the works since this past September when teachers in Bartlesville, Oklahoma began seriously thinking about drastic action to increase funding to an education system that has seen drastic cuts in per-pupil funding and a ten year freeze on teacher salaries.
That movement kicked into full gear after the West Virginia teacher strike in late February and early March — tens of thousands of teachers in Oklahoma began planning for a work stoppage.

After Fallin declared victory in the Capitol, leaders from Oklahoma’s teachers unions began releasing statements saying the bill, which met teacher demands about halfway, had not gone far enough.
VICE News was with a group of educators in Bartlesville as they heard the news from the Capitol.

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Oklahoma Teachers Are Planning Their Own Walkout To Protest Low Salaries And Education Funding (HBO)

Teachers in Oklahoma intently watched as their counterparts in West Virginia went on strike earlier this month, and for good reason: Public schools in Oklahoma have seen the biggest cuts in the country in per-pupil funding, and their teachers rank near the bottom in average pay.

So, as the West Virginia strike continued, teachers and labor organizers in Oklahoma began coordinating their own demands to the state legislature, asking for a $10,000 raise for teachers, a $5000 raise for support staff and an additional $200 million in school funding to cover basics like textbooks and classroom supplies. If their demands are not met, the teachers plan on walking out of their classrooms on April 2.

The situation in Oklahoma was created, in large part, by tax incentives offered up by Governor Mary Fallin that benefitted the state’s oil and energy industries as well as tax cuts that disproportionally helped the top income bracket. Meanwhile, teacher salaries in Oklahoma have not budged in ten years, even as insurance and cost of living expenses have gone up. Things got so bad last year, that, in an effort to cut costs, roughly 20 percent of school districts in the state enacted a furlough cutting the school week down to just four days.

VICE News traveled to Oklahoma City to meet with Bonnie Green, an early childhood teacher and a 30-year veteran of Oklahoma schools, who now has to take on a second — and third — job, just to make ends meet.

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Women Unshackled – Live

On Tuesday, July 18 Broadly and VICE News will be broadcasting live from the Newseum in Washington, DC at the Women Unshackled conference about the problems facing women in U.S. prisons.

Hosted by the Justice Action Network and the Brennan Center for Justice, the event organizers say the day will “discuss the unique challenges women face in the [criminal justice] system and the policy solutions to improve outcomes.” Lawmakers from both sides of the isle – including Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK) – will be taking part in the day of discussions.

You can see a schedule for the day’s events below, and find more information here: http://www.justiceactionnetwork.org/womenunshackled/

9:30 a.m – 9:45 a.m. – Welcome Remarks from Holly Harris, Executive Director, Justice Action Network, and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).

9:45AM – 10:30 AM – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Susan Molinari, Vice President, Public Policy & Government Relations, Americas, Google.

10:45AM – 11:45 AM
Breakout Session One: How Arrest and Jail Policies Impact Women and Families
(Watch on Broadly) Breakout Session Two: Rehabilitation and Treatment Strategies for Women Behind Bars

12:15PM – 1:30PM – Lunch Session featuring U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and a Keynote by Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK).

1:30PM – 2:30PM
Breakout Session Three: What Happens to Children When Moms Go to Prison?
(Watch on Broadly) Breakout Session Four: The Need for Female-Focused Reentry Programs

2:30PM-3:45PM – Afternoon remarks from from U.S. Rep. Mia Love (R-UT), and Malika Saada Saar, Google’s Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights. Closing remarks from and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Holly Harris, Executive Director, Justice Action Network.

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