‘They’ve given us a raise and nothing for students’: Teacher walkout shows no sign of ending
Educators stand fast; TPS closed again Wednesday
Oklahoma’s teacher walkout and Capitol protest showed no signs of stopping after a second day as thousands of teachers brought their fight for more state funding for public schools indoors.
Protest chants filled the Capitol rotunda Tuesday as educators pressed lawmakers to take action on stalled-out measures that could bring in additional revenues for school operations. Thousands spent the day outside, protesting or waiting to get in.
“What do we want? Funding! When do we want it? Now!”
“We’ll be back on Wednesday!”
“This is what democracy looks like!”
Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers said the Capitol had reached maximum capacity by about 9:45 a.m., and they would only allow people still lined up to come inside as others departed.
The Oklahoma Education Association listed three teacher demands that would end the walkout: fill the $50 million gap created in hotel/motel tax the Legislature repealed last week, pass a bill that would bring in revenue by allowing “ball and dice” gambling, and find additional revenue sources to increase funding for schools.
Teachers packed the House of Representatives gallery on Tuesday morning and hundreds more waited in a line that snaked all the way around the fifth floor, but they never got in.
Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, attempted to bring to the House floor a vote on Senate Bill 1086, which he said could bring in $70 million to $100 million in new revenue by eliminating a capital gains tax credit, but his effort was blocked.
When the House voted to adjourn about 10:30 a.m., teachers in the gallery booed and chanted: “Fund our schools! Fund our schools!” Presiding officer Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, ordered ushers and state troopers to clear the galleries, but when the outcry subsided, Cockroft relented.
Legislative assistants for House members were being sent home Monday afternoon “in the interest of safety,” according to the House clerk. The House is adjourned until 3 p.m. Wednesday, and many protesters said they were disappointed by the lack of action.
“There is a big push for the (removal of the) capital gains exemption – that would be a tremendous win,” said Alison Clark, a local school board member in Bartlesville. “Now that we know there are possibilities on the table, teachers are trying to hammer the legislators.”
Educators said they are in the fight for the long haul until the Legislature does more.