OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma educators frustrated with low pay and another round of proposed cuts to public schools are mulling an organized walkout to get lawmakers’ attention.
Momentum was spurred this week when hundreds of residents packed a school board meeting in Bartlesville, about 45 miles north of Tulsa. Administrators are gauging support from residents and other districts for a statewide walkout.
According to the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, more than 300 names were put on the attendance list at the board meeting, but school officials believe there were several hundred more in the building who did not get their name on the list.
The Oklahoma House passed a bill Monday to further cut public schools after lawmakers failed to reach a deal on tax increases that would have given teachers a $5,000 pay raise. Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest-paid in the U.S.
Tulsa teacher Teresa Danks has 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.”
If the walkout gets enough support, it could take place as early as April.
Organizers hope to replicate the success of a four-day teacher strike in 1990 that led to tax increases to fund a broad range of education initiatives in Oklahoma.
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