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Consumer Watch: Teaching post Oklahoma teacher walkout

Oklahoma teachers pack the Capitol rotunda April 11 during the teacher walkout. (KOKH/Steven Anderson)

Many Oklahoma teachers say their voices went unheard post walkout. Now, they must finish out the year, and prepare for what is next.

The Oklahoma teacher walkout ended about three weeks ago, but things are far from back to normal as many teachers and education leaders deal with disappointment and the future of Oklahoma’s education system.

“Emotions were high because it was the energy and all the voices that came to the capitol to stand up for their student, so now we are shifting focus,” says Katherine Bishop, Vice President of the Oklahoma Education Association.

After about two weeks of demonstrations, Oklahoma teachers gained a raise, but not much more of what they asked for. On social media, teachers talk of dealing with those feelings of being ignored by legislators while finishing out their classes, and preparing for changes in the coming school year. The OEA says the fight continues.

“We have not left the Capitol. We have had groups of teachers there every day. We brief them as they go and talk with their legislators, “says Bishop.

The Oklahoma Education Association says the raise, though welcome, will not be enough to keep Oklahoma teachers in the classrooms, and that more must be done to make more legislators understand that.

“I know everybody is not happy that they didn't feel like they accomplished everything, but that's why we have a three-year plan, and we will continue to work on years two and three, “continues Bishop.

Seth Hickerson, CEO of Boost Mental Toughness and Leadership says these feelings of frustration can be overwhelming in any career field including education.

“It makes it difficult for people to be present and confident, and able to learn, and take care of what is in front of them, “says Hickerson who believes breakdowns in communication contributed to problems between legislators and educators.

He also says that it is important for districts to focus on developing their teacher's emotional intelligence, as they continue with the stressors related to simultaneously working with legislators, and in their classrooms.

In terms of financial impact, the raise goes into effect the following school year, but Bishop says that will not be enough to end the teacher shortage. OEA says it will continue to meet with legislators to push for additional education funding in the two following years.

Several districts around the metro are now in the process of making up time post walkout. This adds additional stress for teachers as well as parents who have told fox 25 this is affecting their summer plans, but the time students must be at school is federally mandated.

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