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'They Cannot Ignore Us': Oklahoma Teachers Resolute as Walkout Enters Second Day

"They are counting on you to go away silently," the head of the state teachers' union said of the legislature

An estimated 30,000 teachers protested at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday, and dozens of school districts were closed on Tuesday as the teachers' strike continued. (Photo: @StephMontelongo/Twitter)

While some predicted that Oklahoma's teachers would be back in their classrooms Tuesday after rallying for education funding at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City the previous day, many schools remained closed as educators continued their walkout.

"We will pack the inside of the Capitol," Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), said in a statement. "We need to make sure that they cannot ignore us."

After an estimated 30,000 education supporters demonstrated at the Capitol on Monday, Priest said, the legislature adjourned without progressing towards a funding solution for schools.

"They are counting on you to go away silently," Priest told the state's teachers. "The disrespect from lawmakers is something, unfortunately, we're used to. It's why Oklahomans from every corner of this state have no trust in the legislature. But it is not something we will accept any longer."

According to local news reports, more than 60 of the state's school districts remained closed Tuesday as the teachers' strike entered its second day.

Teachers in the state are demanding a $10,000 raise over the next three years—after many have spent the past decade with no pay increase—and a $200 million funding package to pay for school supplies, advanced placement and arts classes, and other school necessities that have been sorely neglected.

A bill the state legislature passed last week offered a $6,100 raise for teachers, a gesture the OEA said was insufficient to stop the strike. The teachers' union was especially dissatisfied with the $50 million that was included in the bill for school funding, which Priest said would cover less than one textbook per student.

Teachers have strongly rejected Republican Gov. Mary Fallin's claims that House Bill 1010xx, the funding bill she signed last week, was "historic."

"We have made clear and simple asks for additional funding for students," Priest said on Monday. "The Oklahoma House and Senate have bipartisan proposals in front of them to immediately fix the funding shortages in House Bill 1010xx and provide additional funding for students...Teachers will continue to walk until we get a deal that our students deserve."

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