Lawton educator speaks on looming teacher walkout

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - As Oklahoma educators continue to fight for state-wide pay raises, the threat of teachers holding a walkout is becoming a possibility.

The president of the Professional Educators' Association of Lawton said the walk-out all hinges on if the legislature can pass some kind of bill to fund the pay increase for our teachers. Nothing is planned yet or set in stone, but if they can't reach an agreement on a bill, there is a very real possibility there is a massive, state-wide teacher strike over the coming weeks.

President of the Professional Educators Association of Lawton, Arlene Cudd, said as of right now, whether or not a teacher walkout will happen falls squarely on the shoulders of Oklahoma's lawmakers

"That's what we're looking at is we'll get a bill and the legislators will support it. If they support it, we won't have to do a walkout. If they won't support it, unfortunately, we may have to do a walkout so we can get their attention that we're really serious and we won't keep saying that's ok, we can survive, we can stretch it a little bit more. I think we've been stretched to the max," Cudd said.

Cudd said there is no official walkout planned as of yet, but the Oklahoma Education Association is already planning one should it come to that. What that walkout would look like is still up in the air.

"We would hope that we have the support of the superintendent and that it would be very organized and safety minded. Professional in organization and that they would be aware that this is an extreme measure but it can be done if we don't do something about the salaries," Cudd said.

Cudd said the conversation about teacher pay raises has been around for years, but it's more important now than ever. She says its particularly important that we find a solution in the next few weeks, as more and more teachers move out of state to find the pay increases Oklahoma hasn't been able to offer them.

"We want it fixed in a timely matter because unfortunately, this is the time that a lot of teachers will go out and apply to Texas and other states. You apply in the spring and early summer and that's when they start making their decision. If we can get that raise, the teachers can suddenly say hey, I can stay in Oklahoma," Cudd said.

Obviously, a teacher walkout would have a dire impact on the school year and the students, but even if there is a walkout, Cudd said that problem could be fixed. She said she would expect school districts to hold make up days for any days missed if and when the teachers decide to protest.