In The Know: Teachers pack Oklahoma Capitol; walkout shows no sign of ending

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Teachers pack Oklahoma Capitol; walkout shows no sign of ending: Oklahoma’s teacher walkout and Capitol protest showed no signs of stopping after a second day as thousands of teachers brought their fight for more state funding for public schools indoors. Protest chants filled the Capitol rotunda Tuesday as educators pressed lawmakers to take action on stalled-out measures that could bring in additional revenues for school operations [Tulsa World]. State Funding Crisis and the Teacher Walkout: Resources & Information [OK Policy].

Day Two draws more emotion: Last week, several officials said they believed the Oklahoma teacher walkout would last one day and serve more as a rally. That hasn’t been the case. If anything, Tuesday was more noteworthy than Monday. Unlike the first, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol shut access to the building because it was over capacity [Journal Record]. Educators chant, boo lawmakers after failing to hear capital gains tax measure [KFOR].

What’s the status of OEA’s three demands of the Oklahoma Legislature? The Oklahoma Education Association has listed three demands of the Legislature to call off the walkout that brought state teachers to the Capitol for a second day on Tuesday. Here is a look at where those demands stand [Tulsa World]. 

The education funding package is a major step forward. There’s more work to do: The Oklahoma Legislature last week passed a set of bills to provide pay raises to teachers, school support staff, and public employees funded primarily by a tax increase on tobacco, motor fuels, and gross production. Passage of the revenue bill was a truly landmark moment: it marked the first time that a major revenue bill has surpassed the three-quarters supermajority threshold for tax increases since passage of State Question 640 over a quarter-century ago, and it followed at least two years of intense but unsuccessful efforts to reach agreement on a grand bargain on the budget [OK Policy].

Oklahoma educators to march 100 miles to Capitol: A group of Oklahoma educators plans to march 110 miles to raise awareness of their demands for more classroom spending. More than 100 teachers, parents and their supporters plan to start walking from Tulsa to the state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Wednesday to call attention to the state’s low student funding. Participants will include Tulsa Superintendent Dr. Deb Gist, Oklahoma Education Association Vice President Katherine Bishop and National Education Association Secretary Treasurer Princess Moss [AP]. 

House expected to vote on bills to possibly end teacher walkout, lawmaker says: House members plan on moving on bills that could potentially end the statewide teacher walkout at the Oklahoma Capitol, a lawmaker told KOCO 5. Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, said House leadership plans to vote on bills Wednesday in committee. The question, however, is will those bills be enough to end the walkout? [KOCO] Bill eliminating capital gains deduction stalled in House [NonDoc].

Among varied walkout moods, teachers call for progress: Weeks before an estimated 40,000 teachers flooded the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday, the Oklahoma Education Association listed its demands as follows: $10,000 educator raise, $5,000 education-support professional raise, $200 million in education funding over three years and a $7,500 raise for state employees [NonDoc]. 

During Walkout Oklahoma City Police Lookout For Schools: Police Sgt. Jeff Crawford is breaking his routine. He’s leaving the office and climbing into his squad car because Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers and supporters are rallying at the state Capitol to demand more school funding. Crawford is a school resource officer who normally works out of Douglass Mid-High School [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Kaiser: More state tax hikes needed: Legislation signed by Gov. Mary Fallin last week was a good start toward meeting the state’s financial needs, but doesn’t go far enough, Tulsa oilman, banker and philanthropist George Kaiser said Tuesday. In an interview following a presentation at Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, Kaiser said the legislation is not enough to solve the problems of Oklahoma government [NewsOK]. 2018 Policy Priority: Restore the Income Tax on High Incomes [OK Policy]

Chambers differ on walkout’s effects: As the teacher walkout has made headlines across the globe, the state’s metro chamber of commerce leaders have different opinions on what it could mean for business recruitment. Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President and CEO Roy Williams said he doesn’t think the continuing underfunded-education-system headlines will affect whether businesses move here [Journal Record].

Oklahoma School Districts Using Snow Days During Teacher Walkout: Right now, both sides of the walkout don’t appear to be budging. Teachers say they are ready to walkout as long as it takes, and you can partly blame the weather for their flexibility. Due to no major storms this school year, many districts still have built in emergency, or snow days left on the calendar [News 9].

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin compares teacher protests to ‘a teenager wanting a better car’ in TV interview: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said teachers lobbying for increased salaries was like a teenager wanting a better car amid statewide teacher walkouts Tuesday. “Teachers want more,” Fallin said in an interview with CBS News. “But it’s kind of like a teenager wanting a better car.” Fallin has been criticized for her absence at protests at the state Capitol, where teachers from around Oklahoma have been calling on the Oklahoma Legislature for increased pay and per-student funding since April 2 [OU Daily].

Democratic representative tells teachers state House GOP leadership ‘trying to wait you out’: A Democrat member of the state House on Tuesday told teachers protesting at the Capitol that House leadership is trying to “wait you out,” by scheduling its regular session later that usual on Wednesday. Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, in a video shared on Facebook, said the House is set to go into session at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, which a House spokesman confirmed via text on Tuesday night [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma lawmaker apologizes after Facebook video saying he won’t vote on teacher measures: An Oklahoma lawmaker has apologized after posting a Facebook Live Tuesday saying he won’t vote for another measure for education. “Let me tell you something, I voted for every teacher measure to fund them all last year,” said Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-District 12. “It took us a year and a half to pass it. And now, they come into this House, they want to act this way. I’m not voting for another stinking measure when they’re acting the way they’re acting.” [KTUL]

Bill would allow Oklahoma jails to use “Rapid DNA” analysis of arrestees: A bill making its way through the Oklahoma Legislature would allow jails to use a “Rapid DNA” analysis system for people booked in, allowing law enforcement to enter an arrestee’s DNA profile into databases maintained by the FBI and OSBI to check for involvement in other crimes. The bill, House Bill 3439, authored by Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, and Sen. Wayne Shaw, R-Grove was introduced at the request of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office [The Frontier].

Lankford still optimistic about DACA solution; people rotate through a downtown Subway shop to hear him speak: U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Tuesday he still hopes to resolve the status of undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, despite President Donald Trump’s declaration via tweet on Sunday there will be no such deal [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“I’m coming back until this is solved. I’m retiring soon. Once I’m gone, who’s replacing me? I have to worry about my grandchildren and other people’s children and grandchildren.”

– Susan Franklin, a fourth-grade teacher at Jenks East Elementary School, who was among the thousands of demonstrators advocating for more funding for education and other services at the Capitol on Tuesday (Source)

Number of the Day


Population increase in Canadian County from 2016 to 2017, the most of any county in Oklahoma.

Source: U.S. Census

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Denver sold bonds to reduce the human and financial costs of homelessness. The results so far are promising: They found Robert Bischoff by sharing his photo with a Sinclair gas station clerk who often sold him cigarettes. They met Alexander Jacob after sending his mom a letter, even though he almost didn’t respond because he figured it was “trash mail.” The two men and more than 250 more people — all homeless and high-frequency users of jail, detox and emergency departments at taxpayer expense — have been tracked down by Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Mental Health Center of Denver outreach workers and given apartments through Denver’s social-impact bond program [Denver Post].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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