OKGOP Platform Aims To Punish Teachers, Districts For Walking Out
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Republican party platform is facing criticism from educators after party members voted to add making laws preventing teachers from walking out, or to punish the ones who do, a part of the party platform.
The actual language is in the party's new platform or core goals. It says Republicans will push for laws "that prohibit teachers from strikes, walkouts, or semblance thereof during the school year." The platform also goes a step further to say they want laws on the books to punish entire districts where teachers walk out calling for "a funding cut equivalent to the daily payroll and expenses of the district."
The vote to make the push for the punitive laws a platform plank is a curious decision, given a large majority of Oklahomans supported the walkout after teachers were given raises and a wave of education-minded candidates ran in 2018.
“It's a gross overreaction of a problem that was actually created by our legislature,” Oklahoma Education Association Vice President Katherine Bishop said. “Limiting anyone's voice to be able to come to the capitol, share their stories, what's happening in their classrooms, what's happening with their own children is a disservice to our community members.”
Multiple attempts over the course of several days to get a comment from the Oklahoma GOP about public concerns and constitutional concerns to the platform were unsuccessful.
Other states where teachers walked out like Arizona have considered legislation to prevent teachers from protesting, but Oklahoma appears to be the first state where a party has made it a priority to punish teachers.
Several bills were introduced at the state capitol this session including one that would dock pay from teachers who walked out of class, strip certifications, and punish districts. Another would have forced large groups of protestors to pay a $50,000 fee for the cost of clean-up around the capitol.