Now in Its Second Week, the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout Gains Momentum
The Oklahoma teacher walkout, now in its second week, is showing no signs of slowing down. The state's two largest school districts have announced they would remain closed on Tuesday for the seventh consecutive school day.
The Oklahoman's education reporter, Ben Felder, tweeted that Monday's turnout at the state capitol "may be the biggest crowd yet."
And the state capitol are about to gain a few more passionate demonstrators: Dozens of educators will arrive there Tuesday after having walked 110 miles. The weeklong march from Tulsa was an attempt to drum up support for more education funding. The Tulsa superintendent joined in. (The Tulsa World has a great story from the road with the marchers.)
What will it take to end the walkout? The Oklahoma Education Association is calling on Gov. Mary Fallin to veto a repeal of the lodging tax that the legislature passed last week. That tax would have generated an estimated $42 million in revenue for education.
The Bartlesville school district—a large suburban district outside of Tulsa—has said educators would return to the classroom if Fallin vetoes that bill. Fallin hasn't said whether she's planning to sign the bill.
The OEA is also calling for the state house to vote on a bill that would reinstate the capital gains tax, which would provide more funding for schools. So far, state legislators have shown no signs of wanting to take up the bill this session.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma education department has extended the state's testing window by one week. The walkout started on the first day of the testing period, which caused many district leaders to worry about how they will navigate school closures and testing requirements. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she hoped the extension will prevent a loss of federal funding—the federal government mandates that 95 percent of students take the required tests.
When asked about the Oklahoma teacher walkout, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told the Dallas Morning News that she wants to stay focused on "what's right for kids."
"I hope that adults would keep adult disagreements and disputes in a separate place, and serve the students that are there to be served," she said.
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Image: Eric Andexler, right, a school teacher from Norman, Okla., and his daughter, Heather Andexler, left, who just graduated with a degree in early childhood education, hold signs in the state Capitol rotunda as protests continue over school funding, in Oklahoma City, April 9. —Sue Ogrocki/AP
Corrected: A previous version of this article misstated when the educators from Tulsa arrived at the state capitol. They arrived on Tuesday, April 10.