Statement: Walkout resulted in major victories for education, but the work is not done

Oklahoma Policy Institute released the following statement on the announcement that the Oklahoma Education Association is shifting focus beyond the teacher walkout:

Teachers and other participants in the historic walkout to save Oklahoma schools deserve our thanks. This walkout was responsible for breaking years of legislative gridlock and motivating a supermajority of lawmakers to approve the tax increases needed to raise teacher pay for the first time in a decade. During the walkout, advocates delivered a loud and clear message heard by the whole state that we must do more to support schools.

The walkout was the continuation of years of growing action by a broad coalition of educators, parents, school boards, and regular Oklahomans. These efforts will continue, because the work of funding core services is not done.

The revenues approved by lawmakers just before and during the walkout represent a major breakthrough, but they are still not enough to fully fund new commitments to education, much less to undo years of devastating cuts to school programs and other core services like public safety, health care, and protection of vulnerable Oklahomans. Lawmakers have not adopted all of the sensible revenue options available to them, like removing the costly, ineffective capital gains deduction, or rolling back income tax cuts for high earners that have not lived up to their promises of economic growth.

We have more work to do, but the good news is that more Oklahomans than ever are stepping up to do that work — from advocating with their lawmakers to running for office themselves. As the walkout comes to an end, lawmakers should know that these voices and this movement are not going away.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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