Oklahoma's largest teachers union calls for end to walkout

The Oklahoma Teacher Strike Has Now Lasted As Long As West Virginia's

The Oklahoma Teacher Strike Has Now Lasted As Long As West Virginia's

The largest union for Oklahoma teachers on Thursday called off its almost two-week walkout that shut public schools statewide, saying it had secured historic gains in education funding after school budgets were devastated by a decade of cuts.

"We absolutely have a victory for teachers", Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told a news conference.

Tulsa Public Schools said its plan is for teachers to come back Monday, and have students return to class on Tuesday.

More than a dozen teachers filed paperwork this week to run for state House and Senate seats, many of them first-time candidates inspired by the teacher walkout that has shuttered schools across the state for a second consecutive week.

Irvin who has a sibling that attends school says it's important for them keep attending classes and finishing the school year on time.

That matches the duration of a walkout by West Virginia teachers earlier this year.

The state legislature only approved a fraction of that funding demand and teachers made no further progress since last Friday.

Her husband, McAlester High School English teacher Jason Lightle, said complacency had allowed the state education system to deteriorate, and gains were modest compared to the need.

"I feel emboldened, but also feel very disappointed".

"Now that teachers have received a pay raise, we must focus on reforms that will empower teachers and local school districts to use funds to best meet the needs of our students", he said.

Zearley said OPEA will continue to advocate during the legislative session as it asks for this year's state employee pay raise to be increased to $2,500 for each employee, another pay raise next year and an additional $50 million to begin restoring previous state agency cuts.

Officials say they haven't heard of any discussions about how the legislature plans to protect funding for core services in the future.

Oklahoma's teacher walkout coincided with its three-day candidate filing period, giving frustrated educators an outlet for their enthusiasm.

The OEA had been polling its members throughout the walkout, Priest said. "Complacency simply can not be allowed any longer".

"Voters are more receptive, engaged and aware about what the issues actually are, and there's not a presidential election at the top of the ticket", Langthorn said, "so we're focusing on Oklahoma issues, and I think that will give everybody a head start".

The number of teachers vowing to run for office was one sign of the walkout's success, said Kelly Craig, a fifth grade teacher in Oklahoma City. "Without the walk-out, this wouldn't have occurred!"

Some of the same educators she has been banding together with throughout the walkout. But he said he's ready to go back to school. "Now the nation has proof of this", he said. I think they need to pay attention to the fact that we are their constituents. "The kids are the priority".

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