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Oklahoma teacher walkout a possibility

OKLAHOMA CITY - Tulsa teacher Teresa Danks first gained notoriety last summer when she stood on a street corner and panhandled for money to buy supplies for her classroom.

She’s become an advocate for teachers across the state starting Begging for Education, an organization that raises money for teacher classrooms.

She has now started a petition on change.org, asking anyone who would support a statewide teacher walkout to sign.

“Nobody wants to see this but, like I said before, teachers are tired of being hushed. They’re tired of their voices not being heard, and they’re tired of empty promises,” Danks said. “Drastic measures are sometimes what it comes to.”

Twenty-eight years ago, that’s exactly what Oklahoma teachers did.

For four days, in April of 1990, they rallied around the capitol for House Bill 1017 - ultimately claiming victory when the bill and the emergency clause passed.

“They said, back then, in the 90’s, that this would never happen again, and here we are again,” Danks said.

“We get questions all the time about, 'Hey, when are we going to walk out? When are we going to say enough is enough?'” said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association.

The OEA organized the walkout of 1990.

Priest said the difference, though, between now and then is there is no viable solution on the table, no bill currently in place.

“We can’t just walk out and that be the goal. There has to be probably a bill that has to be passed so that there is also an entrance back plan to schools,” Priest said.

Danks said, for many teachers, the final straw was the defeat of the Step Up Oklahoma plan in the legislature last week.

Almost 3,000 have signed her petition in just three days.

“It’s coming. I think everybody’s talking about it,” Danks said.

Priest said they would need community and parent support before walking off the job to send a message.

“When we walk out, it is for our kids. And, we’ve got to do better. And, so, it may be time again soon,” Priest said.