‘Go Ahead, Be Pissed:’ GOP Lawmaker Slams Striking Teachers

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“You’re losing support of people who supported you all year long. Now you’re going to come here and act like this after you got a raise?”

 

As hundreds of teachers in Oklahoma walked off their jobs and closed schools statewide to demand pay raises and more funding for a school system reeling from a decade of budget cuts, a Republican representative criticized the protest.

Oklahoma Rep. Kevin McDugle slammed the teachers for their behavior, while on the floor of Oklahoma House, in a Facebook video.

“I’m not voting for another stinking measure when they’re acting the way they’re acting. You’re losing support of people who supported you all year long. Now you’re going to come here and act like this after you got a raise?” he said in the video.

At the end of the video he said, “Go right ahead, be pissed at me if you want to.”

After the video, teachers stormed the Republicans office with notes.

After receiving intense backlash, McDugle deleted the video and later posted an apology. In the second video he said he has voted for teachers and will continue to vote for them. He also claimed legislative assistants have received death threats in the Capitol.

“I do apologize that it came across the way it did," he said in the video.

The protest by teachers was triggered after the Republican-led legislature passed a bill raising taxes on the gas and oil industry as well as on cigarettes to provide public schools with more funding. The move followed the Oklahoma Education Association’s announcement that teachers were going to walk out on April 2 if pay for teachers and school staff was not raised.

 Oklahoma secondary school teachers had an annual mean wage of $42,460 as of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The minimum salary for a first year teacher was $31,600, state data showed.

The mean wage for teachers in every neighboring state is higher, causing many experienced teachers to leave Oklahoma, where some budget-strained districts have been forced to implement four-day school weeks.

Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton

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