OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Education Association, our state’s largest union, said they will announce a statewide school closure strategy later this week.
“We’re starting to ramp up the pressure,” said OEA president Alicia Priest.
But, Priest said the hope is the state legislature will act to get a teacher pay raise before it comes to this.
“The legislature has all the opportunity to solve the problem before it comes to that. They need to fund education and our core services, and they need to do it now,” Priest said.
The union is being careful though not to call it a strike, saying they’re working with school districts so they can close in order for teachers to lobby at the capitol.
“Now, we’re at a point where school boards are going to start passing resolutions in support of teachers,” Priest said.
“For us, it would look like a snow day. We build in snow days into our calendar, so it would not mean that we would have to miss any additional schools or make up any days to accommodate this,” said Millwood superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods.
One potential date being discussed is April 2.
“There will be some action on April 2nd, and what that action is is really dependent on what the legislature does between now and then,” Priest said.
That date just happens to coincide with end of the year state testing.
“Until we fund education, those test scores are meaningless,” Priest said.
“Right now, when we really should be worried about preparing for tests and preparing about how we’re going to best prepare kids to take the test, we’re worried about the teacher walkout,” Robinson-Woods said.
But, the Millwood superintendent said they will support their teachers who feel like the walkout is the only option left.
“You never want to hear the word strike. But, at this point, it’s almost like our hands are tied. What else are we supposed to do?” said Monique Tye, president of the Millwood Teacher Union.
The OEA released results Monday afternoon from an extensive online survey.
More than 10,000 teachers, parents and community members responded, and nearly 80 percent said they would support a statewide closure of schools to get the legislature to act.