OKLAHOMA CITY – After the teacher walkout came to an abrupt end on Thursday night, many educators feel as though the fight shouldn’t have ended so soon.
Last month, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it is 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.
OEA announced that it was tentatively planning a teacher walkout for April 2 if legislators didn’t meet those demands.
Earlier this month, Gov. Mary 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.
For nine days, thousands of educators and supporters headed to the Capitol to demand an increase to education funding.
Barney Moon, a teacher at Yukon High School, was one of those educators at the Capitol.
“It’s really been frustrating,” Moon told Yahoo!. “Been here every day. Protested every day.”
He says he made the decision to leave the classroom, and he also stepped away from coaching Yukon’s baseball team during the walkout.
On Thursday, the OEA announced that the walkout was coming to an end.
“We need to face reality. 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,” OEA President Alicia Priest said.
Now, the decision has Moon wondering what would have happened if other coaches had stopped participating in sports during the walkout.
“Had more of the coaches walked out and decided not to participate in extra-curricular activities, I believe the legislature would have felt a bigger pinch,” Moon told the website. “As far as I know, no coaches contacted me [about walking out in solidarity]. Not one.”
He said that he understands why many chose to continue coaching, saying that it could hurt a child’s chances at a scholarship.
However, he says he feels like the outcome might have been different if more coaches were at the Capitol.
“I believe in my heart,” he said, “we could have made more of a difference.”