Oklahoma teachers have been occupying the state Capitol for four straight days now, filling the entire building with huge masses of people on every level, chanting protest slogans that have grown pointed and personal as the two sides continue their standoff.
Gov. Mary Fallin has seen that firsthand since she gave an interview to CBS News where she said, "Teachers want more, but it's kind of like a teenage kid who wants a better car." Ever since then, when she walks past the teachers, they've jingled their keys at her and chanted, “Where’s my car?”
Fallin isn’t the only politician facing backlash for expressing anti-teacher sentiment. State Representative Kevin McDugle had to publicly back down after he posted a Facebook Live Tuesday saying he wouldn’t vote for another measure in support of the teachers because of their continued protests.
“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," McDugle said.
"All year long, we supported you,” McDugle said. “And now you're going to come here and act like this after you got a raise? Go right ahead. Be pissed at me if you want to.”
McDugle deleted the Facebook Live due to the blowback he received, then posted a second Facebook Live — this time apologizing.
Despite legislators’ public anti-walkout statements, the teachers’ continued presence at the Capitol appears to be having some effect. The House passed a measure Wednesday night that would tax online sales from places like Amazon with an overwhelming 92-7 vote. The measure, which is estimated to bring in $20.5 million for education annually, is now headed to the Senate for a final vote.
"Our win for kids today was only possible because of the energy educators and students have brought to the Capitol this week,” Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said in a statement. “But our elected leaders have more work to do for our students.”
The Oklahoma Education Association is still holding out for legislators to pass bills that would tax “ball and dice” games and remove a capital gains tax exemption to generate more funding for schools. And until then, it seems, the teachers aren't leaving the Capitol.
Cover image: OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 04: Thousands rallied at the Oklahoma state Capitol building during the third day of a statewide education walkout on April 4, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Teachers and their supporters are demanding increased school funding and pay raises for school workers. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)