Oklahoma teacher walkout 2018

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Deborah Gist cried as she stepped across the small stage in front the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools and a group of educators had just finished a 110-mile walk from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to highlight their fight for more school funding.

It was the seventh day of Oklahoma’s teacher walkout, and thousands of supporters rallied to greet the group as it finished the final mile.

“This is not a rally,” Gist yelled to the crowd. “This is not a protest. This is a movement!”

As the wave of teacher walkouts moves to Arizona and Colorado this week, an NPR/Ipsos poll shows strong support among Americans for improving teachers' pay and for their right to strike.

It's been nine weeks since teachers in West Virginia walked out of their classrooms to protest low wages and rising health care costs. That sparked a movement that has spread to a handful of other states where teachers have fought — or are fighting — not just for higher wages but also increased spending, more pay for support staff and, in some cases, to stop proposed changes to their pensions.

In fact, so much has happened in the past two months that we thought we'd put together a refresher, state by state.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the 2018 candidate filings which resulted in nearly 800 people deciding to run for public office, State Attorney General Mike Hunter faces a challenge to his candidacy based off his residency and lawmakers advance seven bills designed to reform Oklahoma's criminal justice system.

Nation's Report Card: mostly flat

The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation's Report Card, showed no statistically significant changes from 2015, except for a slight uptick in 8th grade reading scores. This test is given every two years to fourth and eighth graders in reading and math. It is not high-stakes, but it is the largest single test enabling a comparison of students across the country.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the teacher walkout to call for more funding for education enters week two at the State Capitol, candidate filing for the 2018 elections begins with record breaking numbers and Attorney General Mike Hunter releases an audit showing cleanup at the Tar Creek Superfund site might have cost the state millions of dollars.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

After nine days of rallying at the state capitol, union leaders say the Oklahoma teacher walkout is over.

The president of the Oklahoma Education Association, Alicia Priest, said on Thursday that despite thousands of people calling on lawmakers to increase school funding, educators have seen no significant legislative movement since last Friday.

She said the union polled its members, and a majority doubted that continuing the walkout would result in more money for schools.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated 5:09 p.m.

The state's largest teachers union have announced the Oklahoma teacher walkout is over.

In a press conference this afternoon, Oklahoma Education Association president Alicia Priest said some schools and teachers may continue to walk, but that is up to them and their school boards.

Priest declared the walkout a victory, saying teachers had secured an additional half a billion dollars for public education, but Senate leaders refused to do more this year, and that was the reason for calling things off.

When Evan Taylor heard that Oklahoma teachers planned to walkout, he converted his small Tulsa church into a "glorified daycare" furnished with board games, crafts and a movies to keep kids entertained.

Teachers in Arizona are staging what they're calling a walk-in today. They're asking lawmakers for a 20 percent pay raise and for school funding to return to pre-recession levels. This comes as teachers in Oklahoma continue their walk-out. After more than a week of protests and dozens of closed schools across the state, Oklahoma lawmakers have already agreed to increase teacher pay and school funding.

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