Used To Lawmakers' Broken Promises, OK Teachers Not Giving Up
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - The House and Senate met Thursday without approving any new money for education, but they did move along legislation they'll vote on Friday.
It's not as much as educators want, and they made sure everyone got the message as several thousand teachers stood outside the Senate chambers demanding action, insisting they won't leave until they get results.
For teachers accustomed to broken promises from legislators, there is a sense they cannot give up now.
"You heard the chants, ‘We're not leaving,’ it's because we know if we leave, it's status quo," said Catoosa teacher Connie Willsey.
Teachers are packed into the Rotunda, waiting for word on votes. They're walking the hallways, looking for lawmakers and waiting for hours to get a chance to ask for more funding.
“Their voices are being heard. I believe that. I do. And I believe the legislators don't want us in the hallways making all this racket. They want us back in school, and that's where we want to be more than anything,” said Bixby Principal Brenda Shaw.
The growing crowd in the Capitol reflects years of frustration with lawmakers.
"We're fighting for the tools we need for the classroom. We're fighting for our kids," Wagoner teacher, Sharon Mays said.
While lawmakers are meeting with teachers, some are cautioning they won't get what they're after.
“The people of Oklahoma cannot afford more taxes,” Senator Marty Quinn said.
And that has set up a week-long standoff at the Capitol between a Legislature reluctant to put more into education and teachers who say they can't work without it any longer.
Checotah teacher Lawrence Lane said, “I don't think we're going anywhere. I think this is going into week two."
The Senate meets Friday to debate new taxes worth about $40 million, but the House refuses to consider a $100 million change to the capital gains tax, which is enough to meet the demands of educators.