No Clear End In Sight After First Week Of Teacher Walkout

Friday, April 6th 2018, 9:43 pm
By: Amy Avery

Day 5 of the teacher walkout wrapped up Friday and it doesn't look like there's an end in sight. 

Complete Coverage:  School Shutdown

The OEA released new demands to close a capital gains loophole and veto the repeal of hotel/motel tax.

However, the State School Board Association is pushing for people to go back to class on Monday. 

Despite the wind, the rain, and the cold temperatures, a lot of teachers said they are going to continue to be out at the Capitol until they get the funding they need for their students.

But many of them aren't really sure what that magic number or price would be to end the walkout. 

One lawmaker believes they should take a look back at how far they've come and focus on getting the budget passed now.

“We're so close to making something amazing happen so you just can't walk away yet,” said Nowata High School Teacher Gary Hollingshed.  

Hollingshed is one of the thousands of teachers who have traveled to the Capitol every day this week. 

“It's amazing how many teachers are here and how supportive just the citizens have been,” he said.  

On the other side of the Capitol, Poteau teachers packed up for the day after traveling more than 30 hours this week. 

“This is not about a teacher raise. This is about funding education and restoring what they've taken away from us in the last 10 years," said Poteau Teacher Susan Manlove. 

Even though the Senate passed two education funding measures Friday, teachers said they've still got a long way to go. 

“This is a 13 or 14-year process that we have been neglecting and it's going to take more than the simple one week or two-week process,” said High School Government Teacher Michael Horn. 

One lawmaker said teachers should shift their focus from adding more revenue to getting the budget passed. 

“Let's actually make that real so that in the interim the teachers can have that bill and say okay we have our money,” said Representative Scott McEachin.  

McEachin said the biggest concern teachers from his district have is class sizes.

He wants to make sure the additional funding makes it to the classroom. 

"I want to see that it makes a difference that teachers don't have to go buy curriculum in addition to like Kleenex and markers," McEachin said.  

He believes passing an increased budget would give teachers confidence and initiative to head back to class. 

Many teachers are home for the day and are planning to continue to rally in their own districts this weekend before heading back to the Capitol on Monday.