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Staying the Course: Oklahoma Teachers Rally During Day 2 of Statewide Walkout

Apr 3, 2018
Originally published on April 4, 2018 10:42 am

Updated 10:32 p.m.

Schools across Oklahoma closed for a second day, as teachers continue to rally for more education funding.

Packed the inside the Capitol building – thousands of people chanted “What do we want? Funding! When do we want it? Now.”

State lawmakers approved a teacher pay raise last week, but educators say this rally is about getting more money for the classroom.

The state’s largest teachers union is leading the movement, and Vice President Katherine Bishop says teachers will keep showing up at the Capitol until lawmakers restore some of the nearly $200 million that’s been cut from school budgets over the last decade.

Teachers ended their chant today by saying, “We’ll be back Wednesday.”

Updated 4:58 p.m.

Oklahoma public employees are joining teachers in demonstrations over pay and department funding this week. KGOU’s Caroline Halter spoke with one of about 30 state employees from human service agencies, who demonstrated in Norman this afternoon.

Updated 4:18 p.m.

Republican Rep. Kevin McDugle has posted (and deleted) another Facebook video, issuing a clarification to his earlier video.

In the second video, he said there had been vandalism in the parking lots and death threats to legislators. He said these threats were not coming from Oklahoma teachers, but people in the Capitol from other states.

He went on to apologize, and said he would support teacher raises in the future. But he said he does think the teacher rally may be backfiring, and causing teachers to lose legislative support.

Updated 12:11 p.m.

A Republican lawmaker is voicing his unhappiness with the Oklahoma teacher walkout.

In a now-deleted Facebook video and reposted below via KWTV, Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow) said he voted for every teacher funding measure last year. Now, he's saying no more.

"I'm not votin' for another stinkin' measure when they're actin' the way they're actin'."

Updated 11:11 a.m.

Civic organizations and churches across the state are stepping up to help parents with childcare during the teacher walkout. John Durkee of KWGS visited Forest Park Christian Church, one of several "pop-up daycares" in Tulsa.

Updated 10:58 a.m.

On the House floor, Democrats tried several times to push floor leadership to hear Senate Bill 1086 and House Bill 2985, to no avail.

SB1086 repeals capital gains deduction, which would apply mostly to residents making $200,000 or more annually. Currently, when people make a profit off the sale of a property or an investment, they can deduct the tax they would be charged on that profit. It's estimated the tax incentive cost the state $474 million over the past five years, while only driving $9 million in additional tax revenue. The bill passed the Senate floor in March.

HB 2985 would provide a 4% COLA for retirees in all six Oklahoma retirement systems. House leadership decided in March that the bill would not get a hearing on the floor. It had previously passed out of the Banking and Business Committee by a vote of 18 to 1.

After House leadership announced the adjournment of regular session, the gallery full of teachers and education supporters booed loudly. The presiding officer Josh Cockroft responded by ordering troopers and sergeants to clear the gallery.

Updated 10:23 a.m.

Teachers and education supporters have packed the state capitol on the second day of the planned walkout. The building is reportedly at full capacity and officials are allowing only one-in, one-out to control the size of the crowd.

The crowd has filled all five floors of the Capitol rotunda, chanting, "We're Not Leaving!," "Don't Back Down!," "This Is Our House!," "Fund Our Schools!," "Vote Them Out!" and "We'll Be Back On Wednesday!"

Here are some scenes from this morning:

ORIGINAL POST

Thousands of Oklahoma teachers showed up to the state Capitol on Monday, and this time they weren’t fighting for a pay raise. Educators say this rally is about money for the classroom.

Teachers piled in to their lawmakers’ offices all day. Molly Damer from Bixby, Oklahoma was one of them, making the case for more classroom funding.

"We want our students have the materials and the supplies to be competitive with the surrounding states, and we do not have the money to do that!"

Damer says she appreciates the raise lawmakers gave teachers last week, but her school still needs more money for new books, technology and additional staff to reduce class sizes.

Funding for Oklahoma schools has been cut by nearly $200 million over the past decade, but it’s unclear if lawmakers will restore any of that money this year.

Teachers say they will keep showing up at the capitol until it happens.

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