Oklahoma Teachers Win a Partial Victory

Thousands of Oklahoma teachers and supporters rally in the state's capital

Thousands of Oklahoma teachers and supporters rally in the state's capital. J Pat Carter Getty Images

At a news conference, Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, characterized the nine-day walkout as "a victory for teachers", even as it fell short of its goals....

Oklahoma teachers frustrated after years of swelling class sizes and funding cuts to public schools have streamed into the state Capitol not just to protest, but also to run for political office.

"Fair and equitable school funding based on student need is fundamental for public schools to ensure every child gets the high-quality education they deserve", AEU president Correna Haythorpe said.

The OEA walkout lasted 9 days officially, but those who were at the Capitol on Friday make it 10 days.

He says some teachers intend to stay off the job until the Legislature approves more funding.

The Oklahoma City-American Federation of Teachers, which like the OEA opposed the strike from the beginning, acknowledged Friday that a poll it had conducted showed overwhelming support for the continuation of the strike. "We went very "tiger mom" in the 1990s and 2000s, and we saw the problems that were happening with our kids with burnout and stress and anxiety".

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"They've been out for two weeks, and it's time for them to get back to school", Fallin said in a statement.

The militant mood of teachers was spelled on the signs they were carrying Friday, including, "OEA doesn't speak for me", "The movement didn't start with the OEA and won't end with the OEA", and "We're not leaving".

Thursday's crowd at the Capitol appeared smaller than in previous days, but thousands of teachers filled the inside of the building to capacity, chanting "take a vote" during a morning session of the House, pushing for lawmakers to take up a repeal of the capital gains tax deduction. The $450 million tax package increased taxes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production and aimed to give teachers a roughly $6,100 raise, as well as raises for school support staff and state employees. The teachers are urging lawmakers to override the governor's vetoes.

"It is due to their voices that they were going to be here and what they were going to accomplish that helped move this piece of legislation, I really truly feel like that legislature wanted to get it done quickly so people wouldn't come - that didn't work", Bishop said. The budget also included roughly $50 million allocated for school funding, such as a textbooks. She said that while the walkout is over, the fight for increased funding will continue.

Oklahoma teachers said additional spending was needed to improve deteriorating school facilities and outdated school supplies.

"For urban districts, state aid is not as stable, so it is more hard to provide services", Watson said.

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