OKlegislature Oklahoma AFT
Oklahoma lawmakers adjourn without acting on education funding.

Teachers union ends statewide walkout in Oklahoma

Oklahoma Education Association ends job action after expressing doubt that teachers could wring more concessions out of the legislature

Oklahoma's largest teachers union has called for an end to the statewide walkout that has resulted in the cancellation of nine school days.

The Oklahoman reports that for nearly two weeks, thousands of Oklahoma teachers have come to the state Capitol in Oklahoma City to advocate for additional school funding, which has been cut on a per-student basis over the past 10 years.

"We need to face reality," says Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association. "Despite tens of thousands of people filling the Capitol and spilling out onto the grounds of this Capitol for nine (school) days, we have seen no significant legislative movement since last Friday."

Priest said a survey found 77 percent of her members indicated they were doubtful a continuation of the walkout would lead to any more funding gains.

With nearly 40,000 members, the Oklahoma Education Association represents many, but not all of the state's teachers.

Many districts, including Oklahoma City, had already canceled schools on Friday, but it seems likely most Oklahoma schools will reopen by Monday. 

The threat of a walkout had motivated lawmakers last month to approve more than $400 million in new education spending, most of it going to teacher pay, which ranks near the bottom nationally.

Teachers went ahead with the walkout on April 2, and the Senate later approved two funding measures, including a sales tax on third-party internet sales, estimated to raise another $20 million for public schools.

But lawmakers said that was as far as they were willing to go this year.

In announcing an end to the walkout, the Oklahoma Education Association said it was now focused on the November elections.

As many teachers filled the upper floors of the Capitol, a few were in the basement to submit paperwork to run for office. The three-day candidate filing window began on Wednesday, and several teachers signed up to run for a state House or Senate seat.

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