Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

OEA ends strike after some districts call teachers back to work

OEA ends strike after some districts call teachers back to work

Jo Ellen Barish, a Parent Teach Association (PTA) president with a child attending a Millcreek middle school said on Wednesday: "It's not going to make some shooter stop and say, "Hey, I probably shouldn't go in and do this".

The state party's headquarters is just down the street from the state Capitol, where thousands of teachers, many of them wearing red T-shirts, marched Friday in support of public education.

The Republican-dominated Oklahoma legislature had passed a tax bill that raised about 450 million dollars for education, but educators were seeking 600 million dollars.

Superintendent Jeremy Siebert said they now are doing everything they can to make sure their schools are secure, but with only one School Resource Officer for the district, he thinks select teachers carrying firearms is the best option.

Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, said his members would vote Thursday night on how to proceed.

"We are a four-day a week", said Mandy Karleskint, an eighth-grade math teacher in Catoosa.

In announcing an end to the walkout, the Oklahoma Education Association said it was now focused on the November elections. Though the school governing board and the public appear sympathetic to teacher pay concerns, neither would be tolerant of a long shutdown of the expensive public school system.

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One of the educators we spoke with says the Quapaw group says they are not happy about the walk out ending, saying each school administration should have been responsible for deciding when the walkout ends. The teachers won an average of $6,000 raises, with $1,250 raises for support staff.

Teachers did not win the repeal of the capital gains tax exemption that they pushed for this week, which would reportedly would bring in $120 million annually.

According to a union statement, "110 percent of the membership responded to the survey, with two-thirds wanting to continue the walkout". By passing that, lawmakers hoped to head off the pending teacher walkout.

The Oklahoma teacher walkout ended Thursday on its ninth day. After days of negotiations with lawmakers in both the Oklahoma House and Senate, it became clear that "Senate Republicans won't budge an inch on any more revenue for public education", she said.

She said teachers in her district feel strongly that they should keep walking.

"What we're asking for is revenue streams that will be sustainable from this point forward, so that this walkout doesn't have to happen again in the coming years", she said. The union also shifted some of its demands this week. Other districts sent delegations but kept classes open.

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