You could call this day ten of the teacher walkout. Even though the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Oklahoma Education Association, ended the walk out Thursday, hundreds of teachers returned to the Capitol Friday. They say they’re not leaving.
Teachers News 9 spoke with said the OEA is dis-organized labor, so they’re coming up with their own demands and their own strategy.
“We teachers started this movement. OK? And we will be the ones to end it,” Organizer Alberto Morejon shouted to hundreds of cheering teachers and their supporters.
They returned to the Capitol, one day after OEA President Alicia Priest announced an end to the walkout and refused to answer reporters’ questions about her claims of a victory, even though no money was added to next years’ budget.
“I was heartbroken because the fight is not over. I feel like personally we haven’t even progressed since we started,” said Mid-Del teacher Sonja Fox.
Blanchard teacher Karen Boyd agreed, “It is over by OEA standards. But no. Our teachers are going to continue to fight.”
Teachers said they plan to organize this weekend to determine exactly what their demands are.
“What do we feel like the finish line is? I think most people would agree that pushing anymore of a teacher raise and support staff raise is probably not a good idea,” said Morejon. “We need to come up with a magic number. What would be the magic number to end this walkout?”
Lawmakers had expressed frustration that the OEA had changed their demands several times during the walkout.
Some teachers plan to return to the capitol Monday. Others will send delegates to talk with lawmakers about increasing funding.
“We need to get parents and students here on Monday, so we can pair them up with every single one of you guys so that when we go in that office they can see the way we’re being treated, the way we’re talked to and the way they’re refusing to address our problems,” said Morejon. “Our legislators are not here right now, because they wanted to come back on Monday, but yet we showed up because we care so much about our kids we’re not going to stop until somethings done.”
News 9 did reach out to the Oklahoma Education Association. They’re refusing to comment.