Oklahoma teachers group calls off walkouts

April 12 (UPI) — The Oklahoma Education Association announced Thursday the end of a 9-day teacher walkout, saying it didn’t anticipate lawmakers making any further concessions to educators’ demands for more pay.

OEA President Alicia Priest said protesting teachers “need to face reality” during a news conference calling for an end to the walkouts.

Oklahoma teachers have rallied at the state Capitol each school day since April 2, closing down schools. They asked for increased teacher pay and more resources.

“Despite tens of thousands of people filling the Capitol and spilling out onto the grounds of this Capitol for nine days, we have seen no significant legislative movement since last Friday,” Priest said.

In the days before the walkouts began, the state legislature approved more than $400 million in school spending. Last week, lawmakers approved an additional $50 million in funding. Priest said the fight for more funding would continue, even if schools weren’t closed.

“We have been at the state capitol for the last two weeks, doing everything we can to try to get as much as possible for the children of Oklahoma. We are proud of what we have accomplished, but truthfully there’s no one left to negotiate with in the statehouse,” Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, said.

National Education Association figures show Oklahoma ranks 49th in terms of teacher pay, with average salaries of $45,276. The National Center for Education Statistics says that when adjusted for inflation, Oklahoma teacher pay increased by 0.9 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2016-17 term.