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Tulsa Teachers Union Leaders Say Strike Could Never Happen Here

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Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Lynne Stockely. Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Lynne Stockely.
Thousands of Chicago teachers are on strike this week. Thousands of Chicago teachers are on strike this week.
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard. Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard.

There's a teachers strike underway in Chicago, but here in Tulsa, that's not only unlikely—it's impossible.

In Chicago, 29,000 thousand teachers are on strike and somewhere in that crowd is a former Tulsan, Rachel Christlibe.

She's got a connection to Tulsa's teachers union: She's the daughter of the president, Lynne Stockley.

"She didn't want to do this. it's hard for people to believe if they know my husband and me. She's not a very political person," Stockley said.

Stockley said the last thing any teacher wants to do is go on strike.

"This is not what teachers wanted to do. They wanted to have their year settled and be able to teach their kids," she said.

The union president said, in Tulsa, the teachers enjoy an unusually good relationship with the administration of the district.

Tulsa Public Schools superintendent agrees.

"We get along quite well, and I feel the same way about the other people who work at TCTA. It's just hard work, communications, trust, giving them reason to trust us," said Superintendent Keith Ballard.

Ballard said he and the union leaders talk often and solve most differences before they grow into bigger problems.

"It's very hard work and it is all about communications and building relationships," he said.

The teachers in Chicago have issues with their job evaluations, their pay and class sizes. Tulsa's teachers union says the same issues are valid here; they're just solved in different ways.

In Oklahoma, public employees cannot strike, so that element of bargaining is off the table.

It's unusual for teachers to go on strike, even in Chicago, where the last one was 25 years ago.

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