Morning Bell: WALKOUT - DAY 4
Good Thursday morning. Today is Day 4 of a statewide teacher walkout as Oklahoma educators continue to demand additional funding for public schools.
Teachers did receive one win last night, as the House voted to approve a third-party internet sales tax. It still needs to pass the Senate, but after much debate, the House overwhelmingly backed the bill, which is estimated to bring in around $20 million, starting in 2020. (The Oklahoman's Dale Denwalt has more on last night's vote)
But teachers sais more needs to be done and they plan to be back at the Capitol on Thursday.
As they packed the Capitol on Wednesday, inside and out, teachers remained passionate, especially a day after Gov. Mary Fallin told CBS News teachers want more money, "like a teenager wanting a better car."
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- Article: What a fifth day of school closures means
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"I haven't been referred to as a teenager for a long time," said Melinda Fink, a 27-year educator from Catoosa. "I think they are getting the whole idea wrong. It's not about us teachers, it's about our kids."
Many schools announced they would remain closed on Thursday and a group of teachers kicked off a seven-day march from Tulsa to Oklahoma City.
"I think that the pressure is on," said Greg Frederick, principal of U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, which has lost 30 staff members over the past three years, while adding more than 200 students.
"I think (the walkout) is frustrating some of the legislators but I think they need to be frustrated right now."
You can read my main story from Wednesday's rally here.
You can also watch a video rundown of Wednesday's activity at the Capitol here.
Wednesday's teacher rally at the Capitol received a influx of students who said they wanted lawmakers to hear their own stories of how education budget cuts had impacted their classrooms.
"Every year our band fees go up and some students can't afford to be in band," said Joe Smith, a junior at South Moore High School and a member of the school's drumline.
Smith, along with his classmate Kaiden Story, played a drum set they brought to the Capitol, hoping their taps would be heard inside.
"We have to buy our own books whenever we have to read chapter books in class because our teachers don't have class sets," said Gabriella Cavazos, a junior at Carl Albert High School.
All students who showed up at the Capitol on Wednesday ate for free courtesy of Oklahoma City Public Schools. Support staff handed out sack lunches with turkey and cheese or peanut better and jelly sandwiches, fresh carrots, apple sauce and milk or water.
"I think it's a huge blessing, especially since we have so many children out, particularly today," said Paige Boydston, a fifth-grade teacher from Norman. "This is a big help for the teachers that are bringing their children, too."
On Monday and Tuesday, the first two days of the walkout, staff delivered nearly 4,000 meals to students using buses to reach neighborhoods across the state's largest district.
In an interview with The Oklahoman, Gov. Mary Fallin continue to point to last week's teacher pay raise and said educators should take that into consideration as they continued to march.
“I'm hoping that reasonable heads will come together and that the union (Oklahoma Education Association) and other groups that are out here will understand that they received the largest pay increase ever in the state's history, a 19 percent increase in funding for education overall,”
You can read more from that interview with Fallin here.
The teacher walkout continues today and I'll be at the Capitol with the latest. Have a great Thursday!