OKLAHOMA CITY – ‘Remember in November’ became a battle cry for teachers and education advocates seeking a change at the Capitol. However, it seems like change is already taking place after Tuesday’s primary elections.
Voters across the state voted against several Republican incumbents who spoke out against tax hikes to fund teacher pay raises.
Of the 10 “no” voters in the House who were running for re-election, two were defeated outright on Tuesday- Rep. Chuck Strohm in Jenks and Rep. Scott McEachin in Tulsa. Seven others ended up in an Aug. 28 primary runoff against fellow Republicans.
Four other Republican incumbents also were defeated Tuesday, including one who lost to a seventh-grade English teacher.
The Oklahoma Education Association announced that more than 100 educators, administrators or family members of educators ran for office. The increase in filings by educators was a direct result of the teacher walkout that occurred earlier this year.
In March, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it was seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees, and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.
Gov. Fallin signed a bill that raises teachers’ salaries by an average of $6,100. It also gives $1,250 raises for support staff and adds $50 million in education funding.
However, many teachers said education funding was severely lacking in the measure, which was described as “the largest teacher pay raise in the history of the state.” They resigned themselves to a walkout, and were shocked by comments made by the governor.
“Teachers want more,” Fallin told CBS News, referring to teachers rallying for higher teacher and support staff raises, as well as increased funding for education. “But it’s like kind of having a teenage kid that wants a better car.”
After the walkout came to an end, educators were ready to do more. Hundreds filed for state office, and dozens will be on the ballot in November.
The Oklahoma Education Association told KFOR that 21 education candidates advanced to a runoff that will occur in August.
In all, 28 education candidates won their primary vote, and 21 others didn’t have primaries so they move on to the general election.