'Momentum is on our side,' Oklahoma teachers union leader declares

Many Oklahoma school districts have been shuttered since April 2 when thousands of teachers traveled to the state Capitol demanding that lawmakers appropriate more tax dollars for classroom needs.

Last month, state legislators increased teacher pay by an average of $6,100 and granted public schools with an additional $51 million in funding. "And the bottom line is that, in turn, impacts the quality of education we're providing to the students in beginning teachers' classrooms".

"Eliminating the state capital gains tax deduction could threaten many of our state's family farms and ranches by forcing them to pay an additional tax on the sale of property they've worked hard for", said Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Rodd Moesel. Before that, Oklahoma teachers had not received a raise in a decade.

More than a half million children out of school for the walkout, and some are out along sidewalks in support of the teachers. "Fighting the fight to get more funding", said Kristy Cooper, a Mid-Del teacher.

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Many had never attempted anything so intense as a 110-mile march, in this case from Tulsa to the state capitol in Oklahoma City. Governor Matt Bevin and the state legislature are slashing retiree benefits as they reduce taxes for corporations and the wealthy. "We stand firm, and we've got to have funding for our schools". That ignited protests in other Republican-led states, including Kentucky and Arizona.

The marchers are mostly women, and they have formed a tight bond.

"My teachers, they try, they help us do things, even though we don't have the supplies we need", said Booker T student Maleah Harvin.

Sharica Cole, Ben Franklin Science Academy staffer, said she felt enthused by the show of support.

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The unions insist the funding crisis must be resolved by "working within the system" on a state-by-state basis, which invariably means supporting increases in regressive taxes or cuts in other vital services to make up for trillions being squandered at every level of the government to fund bank bailouts, corporate tax cuts and endless wars for big business.

Hoffman told police she'd taken a group of students, including the 15-year-old victim, to the state Capitol in Oklahoma City to take part in the protest.

But the strike continued, with educators calling for a $10,000 pay increase over three years.

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