Oklahoma Districts Balance School Calendar Following Walkout

Showdowns over teacher pay and school funding continue in 3 states

A West Virginia strike ended last month with a pay raise for teachers, and educators in Arizona protested before classes on Wednesday, without skipping work, to seek enhanced education funding.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said Thursday it is time for teachers to shift their focus to electing pro-education candidates to the Legislature.

Priest said districts should continue to send groups of teachers to lobby at the Capitol. Several have already announced a return to classes on Monday.

"You have achieved a historic victory for our students", Priest said. The relative lack of legislative action during the walkout left teachers wondering what had been accomplished even before the walkout was declared over.

Rep. Kevin McDugle, an ex-Marine Corps drill instructor, chastised teachers in a video he posted on Facebook for failing to thank lawmakers after he and other Republicans voted in favor of tax hikes to fund a teacher raise.

Ms. DeArman said she planned to vote this year and would be carefully considering candidates' education platforms. Ralston is among at least a dozen teachers, a lot of them first-time candidates, who are taking heed.

"I want to thank the more than 100 Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers who worked long hours at the state Capitol to keep teachers, visitors and state employees safe".

"Why can't we get the funding to give these kids what they need - to be future educators, future congressman, maybe even a future president, they aren't going to get there without the teachers", Smith said.

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Oklahoma City Public Schools is providing meals to its students at no cost to them throughout the walkout with buses dropping off the sack lunches at various locations. Teachers there entered their ninth day of striking Thursday over low wages.

Ed McIntosh, head of American Federation of Teachers Tulsa, which represents some TPS support employees, said while TPS has told employees that they'll make up the lost pay at the end of the year because of the extended school calendar, it isn't enough for his members that didn't get paid.

Republican Tammie Reynolds, an assistant superintendent from the southwest Oklahoma town of Elgin, said she chose to run against the GOP incumbent in large part because of his vote against a tax-hike plan that funded teacher pay and public schools.

"The biggest thing to take away today is that we're watching you guys and if you don't get it done now, we'll catch you later", said Broken Arrow Special Education Teacher Lisa Everley.

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Pam Pollard acknowledged many GOP incumbents were faced with a hard decision this session on whether to approve a tax hike and anger anti-tax conservatives to their right, or vote against it and upset teachers and educators in their district.

But most importantly, they aren't giving up hope.

Treat said he met with some OEA members this week.

Hernando said she's not a money person, she just wants her schoolchildren, who live in a very poor urban area, to receive as much funding as they can. "And teachers are certainly contributing to that anti-incumbent mood".

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