On Wednesday afternoon, teachers in Stillwater got an after-school jump on a planned statewide walkout next week.
At one of the city’s busiest intersections, 6th and Western, roughly 40 Stillwater public schools teachers and students waved signs as passing motorists tapped their car and truck horns in seeming approval.
Celeste Fox, a 26-year educator who teaches second grade at nearby Westwood Elementary School, says it’s time to stem the long-rolling tide of education budget cuts in Oklahoma.
"In our own specific district, we’ve lost our kindergarten assistants in the last several years, we’ve lost responsible thinking classroom teaching support. My class size in my own room has gone up by five to seven kids in the last 10 years and to try and meet the needs of that many more individuals, it’s just harder."
Fox said the response from passersby buoyed the teachers' spirits.
"All of us felt better once we got out here. None of us want to not be in our classrooms. It’s where all of our hearts are. It’s what we’ve done for years and years and it’s what’s best is for us to be there. So, to hear the support from all the people driving by makes us know that what we do is valued."
The state Senate passed bills to fund teacher raises Wednesday night, in the largest passed state revenue package in 28 years.
But, a teacher walkout is still planned for Monday, April 2nd, according the Oklahoma Education Association. Teachers say the series of bills don't include enough funding for school operations or for education support salaries, and contain no funding for retired teacher benefits.