STATEMENT: Oklahoma Teachers Strike is Over But the Wave is Just Beginning
UNAC/UHCP President Denise Duncan, RN, released the following statement regarding the end of the Oklahoma teachers strike.
“Fifty thousand teachers, parents and children rallied in Oklahoma City on Monday in support of increased funding for public education and legislators responded by adjourning early and hightailing it out of the capitol.
“Their retreat, after complaining about ‘unappreciative teachers’, occurred on the second of the three-day filing period in the state to run for elected office. Reportedly over 400 people registered on just the first day, outraged at how the state has robbed the education system to pay for tax cuts.
“As an Oklahoman by birth, I watched with horror as the national news filmed in my home state’s schools and revealed they were falling apart. I heard teachers describe having nearly 40 students in each class and teaching classes where half the class had one textbook and the other half another. This week an Oklahoma student discovered she has the same textbook that Blake Shelton—a 41-year old country music star—once owned.
“While underfunding education for decades, Oklahoma cut taxes in the 1990s. In 2003, with revenue lacking, the legislature in their infinite wisdom decided to repeal a trigger that would increase taxes to prevent a budget shortfall. When the recession hit, public education was hit hard. Schools were grossly underfunded. Inflation looted teacher salaries, and teachers increasingly had to pay more of their own health care costs. Folks, that math doesn’t add up. And I pray it doesn’t reflect our priorities as a society.
“The Oklahoma Education Association announced the strike was over on Thursday and urged members to carry on the fight by running for office. I couldn’t agree more. Now more than ever, it’s evident that everyday working Americans must be the change we wish to see. Far too many legislators seem to value tax cuts over the future of our country. May a wave of teachers sweep into office in Oklahoma and beyond to put our priorities back in order.”
United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) represents over 30,000 registered nurses and other health care professionals, including optometrists; pharmacists; physical, occupational and speech therapists; case managers; nurse midwives; social workers; clinical lab scientists; physician assistants and nurse practitioners. UNAC/UHCP is affiliated with the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.