No End In Sight for Illegal Oklahoma Strike


There is no end in sight for the strike, particularly when Oklahoma school superintendents are picketing right along with teacher union officials. Even striking teachers are concerned their efforts can survive if parents and school administrators stop supporting their action.

Michelle Hackman has the story in the Wall Street Journal.

Thousands of Oklahoma teachers surrounded the state Capitol on Tuesday amid a statewide walkout that shuttered schools for a second day, with signs emerging that the two sides remained far apart and no indication the protest would end soon.

The teachers and their union representatives are demanding a $10,000 pay raise, saying the $6,000 average raise the state’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin, signed into law last week was insufficient after years without pay increases. Teachers are also demanding other restorations to education funding, which has been cut sharply in recent years.

School districts across the state said the closures would continue Wednesday, suggesting that teachers and administrators have no immediate plans to let up. Republican legislators, who until recently have backed the union’s demands, began showing signs of frustration.

Tuesday’s crowd appeared smaller than the more than 30,000 teachers who traveled from across the state to attend protests at the Capitol on Monday, organizers said. But the Capitol building remained at capacity all day, with security guards permitting teachers to enter the building to lobby their lawmakers as others left.

“I really feel like it’s up to the teachers to make sure the legislators are listening,” said Torie Shoecraft, a kindergarten teacher at Nichols Hills Elementary school in Oklahoma City.

But Ms. Shoecraft said she worried that the protests can only continue as long as teachers maintain the support of parents and school administrators.

So far, school superintendents across the state have backed the walkouts and unions have coordinated with churches and other community organizations to ensure students who depend on schools for their meals receive them.

Union leaders are pushing a pair of bills that would apply an income tax to capital gains and expand the number of games that casinos can operate, two funding streams they say could direct more than $100 million a year to school budgets.