Tulsa teachers to implement ‘work to contract’ plan to send message to lawmakers

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TULSA, Okla. – An Oklahoma school district says they are working on a plan to get the attention of lawmakers without taking teachers out of the classroom.

For months, education leaders have been discussing the possibility of a walkout if things at the Oklahoma State Capitol do not change.

The Oklahoma Education Association claims that nearly 80 percent of respondents said they would support a plan to close schools in order to force the legislature to focus on education.

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist says a walkout should be the last resort, but adds that a message needs to be sent to lawmakers about the dire situation of educational professionals across Oklahoma.

Gist says that students and parents are going to feel the impact, but says they are left with no other options.

The ‘work to contract’ is the first step and will begin on March 12, meaning that teachers will only be allowed to work within the seven hours and 50 minutes written in their contract.

In other words, they will be prohibited from doing any work outside of those hours to ‘demonstrate the amount of work that teachers do.’

Gist says that students’ classwork will not get graded, and calls and emails from parents won’t be returned by teachers.

Instead, staff and teachers will only be doing what is in their job description.

Organizers say they plan on doing this for two weeks. After that, they will begin lobbying to create new legislation to increase teacher salaries.

If nothing changes, Gist says they will begin planning a walkout. In the event of a walkout, they are preparing to have staff on standby to assist students.

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