Educators, Supporters Plan For Day Three Of Teacher Walkout
OKLAHOMA CITY - The powerful protest continues to pour out at the state Capitol.
However, there’s still no end in sight in regards to the Oklahoma teacher walkout. Teachers say they are prepared to show up day-after-day until their demands are met.
However, that conversation will have to wait until tomorrow. Lawmakers moved their session to 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“Show our kids this is what democracy looks like, and when things are unjust you need to stand up and fight for what's right,” said Westmoore High School teacher Scott Helton.
While teacher and state worker pay raises have been signed into law, the Oklahoma Education Association has a issued a list of demands to end the walkout. The organization was to replace the funding hole left by the hotel tax repeal.
Now, their asking for ball and dice legislation which is estimated to provide $22 million, on top of additional revenue to restore former cuts to Oklahoma classrooms by repealing capital gain tax exemptions.
Teachers said their families bear the cost in the absence of state money.
One metro teacher said her husband, who has a job at Boeing, gives to her classroom every month.
The couple said they don’t have kids of their own, so they’ve adopted the needs of these children.
“Last month alone, I would say $250 straight to my classroom,” said Jordan Ahrens, a pre-K teacher at Santa Fe South Charter School.
Another group hiked miles from Moore Central Junior High to the Capitol to make their voices heard.
“Show people we are not in this for our raises. We are in it for the kids as well. We need money for our classrooms,” said Moore High School teacher Aubrey Sloan.
Some state employees joined the rally Tuesday, and said they know coworkers rely on food stamps and SoonerCare to get by.
“We just want a reasonable income to be able to take care of and support our families,” said Stephen Washington, of Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
Gov. Mary Fallin did sign a bill this afternoon, issuing raises to state employee in the near future. It’s estimated 20,000 people descended on the Capitol, working together to accomplish funding goals.
There were not any reports of violence by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, nor issues with water, vandalism or other crimes.
However, the rotunda was jammed to capacity and prevented some from venturing inside.
“I feel if funding continues to be cut, education will only continue to suffer,” said Levi Dobrinski, orchestra teacher at Putnam City West High School.
Many districts are making the decision to close schools on a day-to-day basis. Teachers said until classrooms are fully funded, they'll keep showing up on the Capitol steps.