Mixed Feelings For Teachers As Walkout Dissolves

Thursday, April 12th 2018, 9:51 pm
By: Amy Avery

After 9 days, the longest teacher walkout in state history is over.

4/12/2018 Related Story: OEA Calls For End Of Teacher Walkout

The Oklahoma Education Association said while the legislature passed millions of dollars in education funding, it still fell well short of what the OEA wanted.

The group said it will now turn its attention to November elections.

The chairs in the rotunda have been filled for the past 9 days and now the OEA said despite hundreds of hours of chanting, meeting with lawmakers, and marching around the Capitol, they are ending their walkout and shifting their focus to getting more education supporters elected into office. 

But most importantly, they aren't giving up hope. 

"The biggest thing to take away today is that we're watching you guys and if you don't get it done now, we'll catch you later," said Broken Arrow Special Education Teacher Lisa Everley. 

Everley has spent several hours at the Capitol this week because she wants more for her students. 

“There are really times when I want to put a kid in a general class but I'm going ‘well golly, there's 40 kids in that class.’ I know that they aren't going to get what they need to have,” said Everley.  

Despite the pay raise, teachers are still nervous for the future of education in Oklahoma. 

"It's not going to bring in new teachers. It's not enough to motivate them, in my opinion, to make teaching a career," said 8th Grade Union Teacher Shelley Zevnik Breece.   

Many said despite the countless hours of chanting and speaking with lawmakers, they're tired of their voices not being heard. However, this movement gives them hope for the future. 

"We've been passive in allowing our situation to be what it is because our concentration has always been on our students in front of us and not on the broad picture around us," said Haskell Elementary School Principal Scott Bein.  

Even though the walkout is over, OEA President Alicia Priest said this is only the beginning for education reform. 

"The state didn't find itself in a school funding crisis overnight. We got here by electing the wrong people to office," Priest said. 

"This is what I would call a one time in a generation event to make a stand and be public and I don't think teacher advocacy should end with the end of this walk out," Bein said.  

Many teachers tell me they will still be back on Friday despite the House and the Senate adjourning until Monday. 

Others said they will continue to protest in their own districts.