What's next after Oklahoma and Kentucky teachers' rallies?

Story highlights

  • Oklahoma City Schools will be closed Tuesday due to the walkout
  • Kentucky teachers expected to return to classes

(CNN)After massive rallies in Oklahoma and Kentucky on Monday, teachers say they'll keep pressuring state legislators on their demands.

The wave of teacher protests in recent weeks shows that they've reached a "tipping point," said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association.
Here's where things stand after Monday's teachers' protests in Oklahoma and Kentucky.

    What's ahead for Oklahoma

    After teachers converged at their state capital on Monday, another day of walkouts is scheduled Tuesday.
    The numbers may be smaller in the second day event as teachers from smaller, rural districts may not be able to take part. So far, there's no end to the walkout in sight.
    The state's largest district, the Oklahoma City Public Schools, as well as the Tulsa districts have already called off school Tuesday.
    Oklahoma teachers seek better pay and increased education funding. They say their classroom sizes are too big and that some don't even have enough textbooks for students.
    But critics say teachers should be in the classroom and should not be walking off their jobs.
    What Oklahoma teachers want vs. what they've gotten

    The Oklahoma teachers' union wants:

    • $10,000 raises for teachers
    • $5,000 raises for support staff, such as janitors and cafeteria workers
    • $200 million in education funding

    What just got signed into law:

    • Average teacher raises of $6,100
    • $1,250 raises for support staff
    • $50 million in education funding

    Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that raises teachers' salaries by an average of $6,100. It also gives $1,250 raises for support staff and adds $50 million in education funding.
    The state teachers' union has been demanding $10,000 raises for teachers; $5,000 raises for support staff; and $200 million in educational funding.
    Fallin said she was proud to have signed the "largest teacher pay increase in Oklahoma's history."
    Her statement on the teachers' walkout Monday emphasized that the state has other obligations, besides education.
    "Just like Oklahoma families, we are only able to do what our budget allows," her statement said.
    "We must be responsible not to neglect other areas of need in the state such as corrections and health and human services as we continue to consider additional education funding measures."
    So the dispute remains: Will state leaders put more money into what teachers want or will teachers return to the classroom without any new concessions? Or will the two sides reach a compromise?

    What's ahead for Kentucky

    Meanwhile, Kentucky teachers are expected back in classrooms after Monday's rally.
    Some teachers had walked out, prompting schools to close, while some of their colleagues were on spring break.
    Thousands of Kentucky teachers rally at the state Capitol in Frankfort on Monday.
    They marched on Monday, the final weekday of the Kentucky legislative session, to voice their frustrations over changes to their pensions.
    Last week, state lawmakers tucked pension reforms into another bill about sewage and passed that bill. The controversial Senate Bill 151 has gone to Gov. Matt Bevin -- who supports changes to the state's pension.
    Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association, said that under the pension bill, new hires will have to use a hybrid cash balance plan, rather than a traditional pension, which will drive new teachers to leave the state.
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    Aside from the pension issue, Kentucky teachers are also demanding more funding in the state budget to pay for textbooks, technology and school programs.
    On Monday, both the state House and Senate passed budget and revenue bills that brings a 6.25% budget cut to nearly every part of state government -- except education, reported CNN affiliate WLKY. Cuts to school transportation and education-related programs were restored, the station reported.
    The proposal also includes tax increases and has been sent to the governor, who tweeted concerns about fiscal responsibility.

    Why are teachers taking action now?

    Galvanized by West Virginia teachers, who went on strike and got a pay raise, educators in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona are also demanding better conditions for students and themselves.
    For years, teachers advocated for better education funding without walkouts and rallies.
    "There gets to a point where you say, no more," said Eskelsen Garcia of the National Education Association.
    "This is not fair to students. This is not fair to the people that have to work two or three jobs or can't pay off their student loans for the privilege of being a public school teacher," she told CNN.