OEA says public supports teacher walkout

Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Kentucky

Educators from across the state are preparing for their fifth day at the Oklahoma State Capitol, but their presence has already made an impact on several Oklahomans.

At least one protestor tried to make it clear Thursday that it is not a question for teachers to answer. They were protesting for cuts in pay and benefits.

Ada City Schools will close the rest of this week so teachers can continue pressing lawmakers to fund schools properly, Superintendent Mike Anderson said Wednesday night.

Some schools, including Tulsa public schools, remained closed on Thursday.

"We have found our mojo". But it's been a busy week, an active week and we have had a lot of people at the capitol. "Tomorrow the Senate has an opportunity to help turn the tide for education in Oklahoma and provide additional funding that our students greatly need and deserve".

'Stop the war on public education!'

In the video, which has since been deleted, Rep. Kevin McDugle said he had been fighting for teachers for the year and a half he'd been in office, but that he would not vote "for another stinking measure when (teachers) are acting the way they are acting". West Virginia teachers won a 5 percent raise after a nine-day strike.

Meanwhile, some teachers are even schooling political elites: A major progressive surge in last September's special election launched Oklahoma educator Jacob Rosecrants from the classroom to the State House in a key swing seat.

As they packed all four floors of the Capitol rotunda on Tuesday, teachers shouted a message to legislators: 'Fund the future!'

Duvall said that union members will decide when to end the walkout that has shuttered some of the state's largest school districts all week, but that he expects teachers to return to the Capitol next week.

Last week, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed legislation that gives teachers a $6,100 pay raise, equating to 15 to 18 percent.

The measure -which still must be passed by the Senate and signed by the governor -brings teachers about halfway toward their initial demands.

'We will hold the line until hell freezes over, and then we will be here on ice skates, ' Muskogee High School teacher Diane Walker told CNN. They're more concerned for money than they are for the education of their child, and that's the important thing. But teachers walked out of their classrooms this week demanding that lawmakers approve more funding for textbooks and technology in their classrooms.

Levata Mickelson is a Spanish teacher from Yukon, which is located about 17 miles west of Oklahoma City. She said she's only received $100 raises every year.

"When I retire, will there be someone to replace me?" said Mrs. Mickelson in front of the statehouse.

"Here is mine", Jack Baker, a fellow Twitter user who identified himself as an Oklahoma teacher, replied, posting a photo of a textbook from his classroom that he said appears just as old.

According to the National Education Association, Oklahoma teachers ranked 49th in teacher pay in 2016. "They haven't been in school ever in Oklahoma with a fully funded education program". Thousands of teachers have swarmed the state capitol in Oklahoma City this week to demand more funding for education resources and higher pay for support staff. "Today a student actually carried his chair with him to sharpen his pencil because he got in early enough to get a good chair". "This is about funding our schools for our students".

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has not yet signed the bill, but last week tweeted his support, saying public workers owe "a deep debt of gratitude" to lawmakers who voted to pass it.

The passage of the Amazon tax and Ball and Dice alone "will almost double the increase in funding for Oklahoma students since the walkout started", said Alicia Priest, president of the OEA, on Wednesday.