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Oklahoma Representative has message for teachers following end of walkout

OKLAHOMA CITY – Now that the statewide teacher walkout is over, one Oklahoma Representative has a message for Oklahoma teachers.

The Oklahoma Education Association decided to end the walkout Thursday after it became clear that Senate Republicans in the Legislature “won’t budge an inch on any more revenue for public education” after days of negotiations with lawmakers in both chambers, OEA President Alicia Priest said.

“We need to face reality,” Priest told reporters. “Despite tens of thousands of people filling the Capitol and spilling out onto the grounds of this Capitol for nine days, we have seen no significant legislative movement since last Friday.”

The walkout ends with about $479 million for teacher and support staff salaries and school needs for the upcoming fiscal year.

That raises public school spending to $2.9 billion next school year, up from $2.4 billion this year.

Efforts to obtain more funding will continue away from the Capitol, Priest said. The union will be supporting its members and candidates who are running for office during the midterm elections against those who opposed funding Oklahoma’s schools.

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. “While it’s disheartening that the walkout ended, the walkout forced change that Oklahomans will see this November,” she said. “Without the walkout, this wouldn’t have occurred.”

Following the announcement that the walkout would end, Oklahoma Representative Emily Virgin had a message for teachers.

Teachers: I know you probably don’t feel great right now because of the walkout ending, but I want to tell you a few things.

1) You absolutely changed the conversation, and you accomplished big things.

2) If you continue your engagement and harness the power you’ve reclaimed, you will change the legislature in November.

3) I will miss you! You were the best visitors to the Capitol I’ve ever seen. You inspired me every single day you were here, and re-energized me and my caucus for the rest of session and this election cycle.

4) From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

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