Teachers, students, and parents packed the Capitol Tuesday panicking Legislators and staff and announced plans to return to the Capitol for a third day Wednesday.
They will continue their demands on the Legislature to restore funding that has been stripped away over the last ten years.
And even though the Legislature has passed several funding increases last week and signed late Wednesday by Governor Mary Fallin, the leader of the coalition said it still wasn’t enough to shift schools away from the dire conditions they are in.
“This legislation falls well short of fixing those problems,” said Alicia Priest in a news release. She is the president of the Oklahoma Education Association.
“These measures leave millions in revenue on the table and still leave Oklahoma students among the worst-funded in the nation.”
Activities begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The Legislature won’t begin their session until 3 p.m.
By around 9:30 our sources waiting in line to get into the Capitol were reporting that they were being held on the first floor until some people left because the Highway Patrol were saying the building was at capacity.
Eventually, as some drifted out, others were allowed in.
From videos recorded by protesters inside, the rotunda on the first two floors filled with chanting, singing teachers and their supporters.
The galleries of first the House and then the Senate filled with protesters there to make sure lawmakers knew they were serious.
In years past rallies have drawn as many as Monday’s rally did, but they were just one day and then done.
The Republican super-majority would then go back to the same business they were doing the week before.
Tuesday was shocking not only to the Legislators but their staff as well.
From some sort of confrontation between a small group and one legislator’s staff, the House sent all their legislative staff home for the rest of the day citing “concerns for safety” according to House spokesperson Jason Warfe.
At another point in the day, while the House was in session, the presiding speaker ordered the Sergeant at Arms and the Highway Patrol to “empty the gallery” because he thought they were becoming too unruly.
Eventually, he allowed them to stay.
School still out
Oklahoma City Public Schools announced early Tuesday afternoon they had canceled classes for Wednesday to accommodate the statewide walkout protesting low education funding from the Legislature.
Most of the other large schools in the OKC and Tulsa metros have canceled classes, too.
A coalition of the two state teachers unions and the public employees union are demanding the Legislature restore funding that has been methodically stripped away over the last decade.