Oklahoma teachers ran in primaries and advance to challenge lawmakers
Galvanized by the issue of teachers pay and school funding, Oklahoma teachers marched and protested in the state Capitol earlier this year. Fed up with their lawmakers, some even decided to run for state office.
The new candidates came from both parties, determined to focus on education issues such as smaller classrooms and better curriculum. And Tuesday’s primary in Oklahoma was a test of how the teachers and education-focused candidates would fare.
The Oklahoma Education Association counted 112 candidates as educators, support professionals, administrators, retirees or Oklahomans with an immediate family member who works in education. Most of the educator candidates ran for seats in the state house.
Dozens won the primaries or advanced to a runoff, according to unofficial election results.
The OEA sent congratulatory messages to several candidates from both parties, including school teachers and administrators on its Twitter account on Tuesday.
“Running for office is brave — a quality of so many educators and support professionals. Regardless of how the votes tallied up tonight, THANK YOU for once again standing up for your students and working on behalf of education in our state. Oklahoma is better for it,” the association posted on its Facebook page.
In one race, two educators are meeting in a Democratic primary runoff.
One of the winners in the Democratic primary for a state house race was high school teacher John Waldron, who got 53% of the votes, according to unofficial results.
“I think the only thing we could do to make sure that education is protected is to elect teachers,” he had told CNN affiliate KTUL. “The best way we can fight this special interest that keep robbing us blind is to elect ordinary, plain, hardworking teachers to the legislature.”
During the nine-day walkout in April, teachers and their supporters spilled into the Capitol, calling for better pay for educators and support staff, as well as increased education funding.
The walkout ended with roughly the same amount of extra education spending secured before the nine-day action began: about $479 million for teacher and support staff salaries and school needs for the upcoming fiscal year. Although it ended, teachers across the state had pledged to continue fighting for their causes.