OKLAHOMA CITY – After eight days, the Oklahoma teacher walkout is officially over.
Last month, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it is seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees, and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.
OEA announced that it was tentatively planning a teacher walkout for April 2 if legislators didn’t meet those demands.
Earlier this month, 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.
When educators said more needed to be done, school districts across the state closed as teachers marched to the Capitol to lobby for additional funding.
For the past nine days, thousands of educators headed to the Capitol.
On Thursday, the OEA announced that it had polled its members and learned that 70 percent were not sure if any additional funding would be found even if the walkout continued.
“We need to face reality. Despite tens of thousands of people filling the Capitol and spilling out onto the grounds of this Capitol for nine days, we have seen no significant legislative movement since last Friday,” OEA President Alicia Priest said.
Priest said that Republican senators refused to “move an inch” when it comes to finding more funding for education.
“Those lawmakers are refusing to cross the finish line,” Priest said.
Priest said that while the walkout is ending, their fight for increased funding will continue.
“We have been at the state capitol for the last two weeks, doing everything we can to try to get as much as possible for the children of Oklahoma. We are proud of what we have accomplished, but truthfully there’s no one left to negotiate with in the statehouse,” said Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers. “The Oklahoma Education Association has its own process for ending the walkout; we have ours. The Oklahoma City AFT went out with a vote, and we will go back in based on a vote. Tonight, our union will hold a telephone town hall meeting with our members to discuss the situation and listen to what teachers have to say. Tomorrow, we will take a vote of OK City teachers on whether to return to the classroom.”
“Oklahoma City’s teachers have been barnstorming the capitol to secure everything they can and want to be back in the classroom, teaching. We’ve fought hard and we’ve won some critical gains, but it’s clear this legislature and governor will move no further, despite the need. So our attention will turn to November. We will fight up and down every ballot to elect people who believe in public education and who will invest in our public schools and kids,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.