Day 2 of Oklahoma teacher protest - - Texoma news, weather and sports

Day 2 of Oklahoma teacher protest

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Teachers marched on the Oklahoma Capitol for the second day. (KTEN) Teachers marched on the Oklahoma Capitol for the second day. (KTEN)
Teachers marched on the Oklahoma Capitol for the second day. (KFOR) Teachers marched on the Oklahoma Capitol for the second day. (KFOR)

Hundreds of Oklahoma teachers marched on the State Capitol Tuesday for the second consecutive day.

Rowdy teachers booed lawmakers when the Oklahoma House adjourned. House officials initially called on state troopers to clear the gallery of protesting teachers but later backed off.

Education advocates filled the Capitol to capacity, and troopers limited access to the building.

Teachers are hoping to convince lawmakers to reinstate capital gains taxes with House Bill 1086, providing more funding for education.

"It's just about changing lives, and I think that's why you see all of these people here," Ardmore High School teacher Charlie Crawford said. "It's about the students. And it's about, you know, some days we are the only high five or hug that they get."

Ardmore schools were in session on Tuesday, but teachers will have several delegations in Oklahoma City all week.

Leaders of the state largest teachers' union, the Oklahoma Education Association, said the strike would continue a third day on Wednesday. School districts in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Edmond, Norman and other communities across the state announced they would remain closed to honor the walkout, but most districts in the KTEN viewing area were open to students on Tuesday.

"We're going to pack the Capitol," union President Alicia Priest pledged.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin released a statement Monday afternoon thanking teachers for coming to the Capitol. But she said they shouldn't expect miracles.

"Just like Oklahoma families, we are only able to do what our budget allows," she said. "We must be responsible not to neglect other areas of need in the state, such as corrections and health and human services, as we continue to consider additional education funding measures."

But Priest said teachers reject the argument that there isn't enough money to provide additional funds for classrooms. They urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would repeal the capital gains tax exemption, a measure that would yield up to $100 million.

"There's revenue out there," Priest said.

Democratic lawmaker Collin Walke said teachers should keep up the pressure.

"I think the Republican strategy is to wait the teachers out," Walke said.

State Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-District 20) was not at the Capitol on Tuesday, but he left this note on his door:

There is a lot of misinformation out there about the state education budget. It is final, it is funded, and for the first time in state history, the legislature complied with the law to pass it prior to April 1. It passed with a strong bi-partisan majority.

Teachers left their own notes on doors of lawmakers who were not able to meet with them, while others waited outside for hours.

Oklahoma ranks 47th among states and the District of Columbia in public school revenue per student while its average teacher salary of $45,276 ranked 49th before the latest raises, according to the most recent statistics from the National Education Association.

"Even though we got something as teachers, I feel like our schools didn't get funded enough," Charlie Crawford said.

The Oklahoma demonstrations were inspired by West Virginia, where teachers walked out for nine days earlier this year and won a 5 percent increase in pay. Teachers in Arizona are now considering a strike over their demands for a 20 percent salary increase.

KTEN's McKenna Eubank reported from Ardmore. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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