OKLAHOMA CITY – Thousands of teachers, students and supporters gathered at the capitol for the fourth day of the statewide teacher walkout.
“The legislature has said they’re not going to fix this, and we have decided that we are going to move in until they fix this,” said Kortni Torralba, a teacher from Moore.
She’s not kidding. Torralba and her friends and family took a living room display on Thursday to the Oklahoma State Capitol for all to see.
Group of parents and teachers making themselves “right at home” at the State Capitol. This woman’s calendar is blocked out for the entire month of April, or whenever she feels education gets the funding they deserve. @kfor pic.twitter.com/KEUm9UceSi
— Jessica Bruno (@JbrunoKFOR) April 5, 2018
“I think their hope is that we are going to give up, and I’m not,” Torralba said. “I was here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, today and I’ll be here Friday.”
On the other side of the state capitol, teachers from Stillwater thanked their state representative, Corey Williams, for his support.
“We know you have a child in Stillwater Public Schools,” said one teacher. “You’ve heard our voice this week, and we’re here. We’re here to invest with you in Oklahoma’s teaching.”
“Well, thank you for being here,” Williams said. “But, for you guys, you’re the ones actually doing the work, actually moving the needle.”
Officials with Oklahoma Education Association said they feel some progress has been made this week.
“When we came Monday, there was no more money for education and they’re listening to us,” said Alicia Priest, OEA president. “They’re hearing that we have to fund our schools.”
On Wednesday, the House passed an out of state online sales tax bill estimated to raise about $20 million for public education.
“Ball and Dice, would bring in about $20-22 million to public education,” Priest said, referencing HB 1013xx.
OEA encouraged members to lobby for those bills when speaking with senators on Thursday.
Priest said, when their members feel the legislature has fully committed to funding their students’ future, they’ll return to the classroom.
“I just feel like, at this point, our legislators are trying to wait us out and they’re hoping we won’t show up,” Torralba said. “I will be here Monday.”
OEA estimates around 20,000-30,000 have been rallying at the capitol each day this week.
HB 1019xx is eligible to be heard by the Senate on Friday.
There’s no word on HB 1013xx at this time.