Bartlesville Students Heading Back To Class
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - The walkout is over for teachers and students in Bartlesville. Classes were back in session Thursday, but the district said they're still sending groups to the Capitol to talk with legislators.
The walkout movement started in Bartlesville and this week it was the first major district to decide to return to class.
The Bartlesville Education Association says they would not return to class until legislators locked in a total of $100 million for education, but the district released a statement Tuesday saying they'd be back in class on Thursday.
Despite teachers and students returning to class, district leaders and advocates said it's not the end of the fight.
"The force of a walkout is a powerful tool. And now we're in a different phase," said grandparent Cindy Wray.
Wray's granddaughter goes to Jane Phillips Elementary in Bartlesville. She's kept tabs on the walkout and the moves legislators are making. Thursday, she went to the Capitol while hundreds of teachers went back to work.
"I hope that they pay attention to smaller crowds of parents, but given that it's our kids, I think we can be pretty fierce," Wray said.
Superintendent Chuck McCauley said when he surveyed teachers last Sunday they were split on whether to come back. He then talked with the district's education association president about what the next step should be.
"We made the decision, and this really started with her, as politically, 'When do you think is the time to go back,' and we both decided Thursday was the day," McCauley said.
Some parents and teachers criticized the call, saying the district caved in and now legislators won't listen.
But the district's advocacy group said it's sending groups to the Capitol and they believe lawmakers will pay attention.
Dan Droege with PEAK said, "Now, it's more what happens inside the Capitol with people with targeted requests, targeted pressure on certain legislators,"
Wray said, as a grandparent, she won't be any easier to deal with.
"I know the teachers feel strongly about the kids, but I can tell you nobody feels, maybe my husband, but nobody feels stronger about my child than me," she said.
Bartlesville Public Schools says the eight day shutdown means elementary and middle school students' last day at school will now be May 30th. Students at the high school will have their final day of class on May 31st.
Sand Springs, McAlester and Sapulpa school districts also returned to class Thursday.