'There Is Wisdom In Shifting Focus': Oklahoma Teachers Union Calls Off Walkout

Yolanda Curtis
April 14, 2018

Thousands of teachers and their supporters converged on the state capitol Friday, the day after the union urged them to return to their classrooms.

Earlier on Thursday, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) had announced it would no larger participate in the "walkout".

"There comes a time, when if what you're doing is not getting the results you seek, there is wisdom in shifting focus."

"It is over by OEA standards, but no, our teachers are going to continue to fight", said Blanchard Teacher Karen Boyd.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents educators in Oklahoma City, said the movement could shake up national politics.

A veteran teacher from Oklahoma City added, "Teachers from MA are talking to us about walking out and doing so without the union". They're going to come back with more attention than if they had if they were working straight through...

The Millcreek School district, responded to the massacre by making almost a dozen safety improvements to schools, including but the $1800 worth of miniature baseball bats they ordered got the most attention.

"For the last year and a half, probably two years, we said we will only pass a teacher pay raise if it's fully funded".

Some teachers seemed ambivalent about ending the walkout.

Oklahoma lawmakers approved a $6,100 teacher pay raise at the end of March 2018.

"Our goal for this year was $75 million, and we ended up with $70 million this year and $22 million additional next year", Jacobs said. And when they would vote on education measures, or even try to bring them up, they were voted down. The repeal of the $5 tax on hotels and motels meant the loss of about $50 million in projected revenue. The objective of the walkout was to advocate for more educational funding.

The Oklahoma Education Association gave legislators before April to present earnings or experience a walk-out, however, teachers protested and forced the marriage an April 1 deadline to embrace. Others will send delegates to talk with lawmakers about increasing funding. One expands tribal gaming in the state to include games with a ball or dice, while the other imposes sales tax on certain internet sales.

"We have unfinished business", Karleskint said. "In addition, they have protected Oklahomans, especially small businesses and farmers, from an irresponsible capital gains tax". She angered teachers last week when she compared their demands to teenagers who "want a better vehicle".

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