The end of the OK teacher walkout

Sarah Guevara

OEA president Alicia Priest announced yesterday afternoon that OEA was ending the Oklahoma teacher walkout. Many teachers and students have gone back to school today.

Countless teachers are angry that OEA will no longer march, but Priest said that OEA just wants to focus on the elections. Priest emphasized that the legislature fell short of its responsibility to Oklahoma’s students.

“We also realize that when what you’re doing is not giving the results you seek, there is wisdom in shifting focus,” Priest said.

She does not see the end of the march as the end of OEA work. Priest is calling for schools to send lobby teams representing Oklahoma education to the Capitol.

The area under the rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol sits empty at the end of the day April 12. Teachers had crowded around every level under the rotunda every day of the Oklahoma teacher walkout.

“Some legislatures don’t like that we have found our voice and are taking our legislature back,” Priest said.

She also said that a record number of people have filed to run for office, including several OEA members.

“The school didn’t find itself in a funding crisis overnight,”  Priest said. “We got here by electing the wrong people to office. No more.”

To her, the teacher walk out was not a march, or a rally, but a movement.

“We have got to be there Monday! That’s when the legislature meets again. They were trying to out wait us and they think we caved … We can’t!” said Michael Williams, a Tulsa teacher who biked 117 miles to the Oklahoma State Capitol from Tulsa.

He plans to go to the Capitol tomorrow and again on Monday.

Many people reacted with angry faces durning News 9 and [UNFLITERED] Facebook live streams of Priest announcing OEA was going back to school – some of whom were upset teachers.

“I think realistically, everything is a negotiation. I’m not satisfied and I don’t think this should end here,” said Heather Hartin, special education and science teacher and OEA member.

After the march, she is planning to be on her district education team. Although Hartin admits she has never been political, the walkout changed her. Hartin plans to educate herself and her community on the importance of politics.

“We can go 30 years, 28 years, 10 years without raising money for education.” Hartin said. “If we don’t pay attention we’ll see cuts and cuts and cuts to education.”