OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) - Thousands gathered at the state capitol again Wednesday for day eight of the teacher walkout, though the crowd was much smaller than it has been in past days.
As the walkout nears its end, Lawton High School teacher Scott Smith said the work is just beginning.
"I don't necessarily think this is our end game. We will be at the polls in November and there is a plan already to come back in February, not as a walkout but to come up here and be more involved. I think we've all opened our eyes that this has to happen with us being diligent and being up here and fighting for our kids every day and not waiting until it's an emergency," Smith said.
Cache High School teacher Rosana Seals said she believes the walkout still has great momentum but if they don't keep fighting after they head back to class, they risk being right back where they started.
"If history has taught us anything in Oklahoma it's that we can't just sit by and let this happen again. We have to make sure that advocacy groups are constantly at the capitol, being lobbyists, being voices for our students and our teachers. We can't let this happen again," Seals said.
Several teachers I spoke with said more changes to support education will hopefully come from this November's election. Seals said personally, this walkout and her experiences with our legislators have been eye-opening experiences.
"I think we as voters are way more informed, my eyes are opened. I think personally, I'm not going to keep voting the same way just because that's how we were trained or brought up. We need to start making up our own minds, we need to start doing the research and it's no longer a loyalty to a party for Oklahoma anymore. We need to break that, we need to vote for the person, not the party," Seals said.
Scott said he believes changes need to be made at the polls come November but for now, he believes they have made progress."
"That doesn't mean the job is done it means the job is done for this session as far as I'm concerned. There are a few things I'd like to get more, not teacher raise but in my classroom. I don't believe you can squeeze blood from a turnip at this point, however, we will vote, we'll get new people in office that can get the changes we need and then we'll be back to support them and hopefully, they'll support us. We'll see them at the polls," Smith said.