SWOK teachers march at state capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) - Teachers from southwest Oklahoma were out in full force at the Oklahoma State Capitol Monday for the first day of the state-wide teacher walkout.

Thousands of people from all corners of the state gathered at the capitol with signs in hand and one common goal in mind.

"It's not just about teacher raises but it's about textbooks and getting teachers back in Oklahoma and our teachers not leaving Oklahoma to go to surrounding states and teachers not leaving our profession to go to other jobs that pay more," said Christy Clark with Duncan Public Schools.

Efforts have been made in the last few days to fund teacher pay raises, but the teachers gathered today to tell the legislature that their plan is simply not enough.

"We still feel like our support staff and our kids need more attention. They need more help they need more funding.  I've got kids in classrooms with broken chairs, old textbooks we make do, we're resourceful, we continue to do our best. But we shouldn't have to settle, and neither should they. We're here for our kids," said Staci Johnson, a fifth-grade teacher at Walters Elementary School.

The teacher said the pay raises will help, but that's not the reason they're doing this.

"It's our children. It's the future. What is more important than investing in those children who will one day be news reporters, one day be teachers, doctors, lawyers, legislators. There is nothing more important than those children and getting the funding for them," said Jennifer Langston, a Pre-K teacher with Lawton Public Schools.

Despite feeling like legislators are not giving them the support they deserve, the teachers say they feel like today proved the State of Oklahoma as a whole is fully behind them.

"It's cool to see so many different people from so many different places here together working on the same cause," said Donna Evans, a Special Education teacher at Geronimo Public Schools.

"Trying to make the right decisions about what the right thing to do during a teacher walkout, do we walk, do we stay in school. It's been heart-wrenching for us. To be here and have all the support from the parents and students from all the towns around Oklahoma has been really, really wonderful," said Johnson.

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