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Teacher's strike now in its second week

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
John Marshall High School literature teacher Shelly Campbell makes a humorous point about the serious reality facing the state's teachers and support staff during Wednesday's ongoing protest at the State Capitol.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The vibe at the Oklahoma State Capitol today was chill. It had more of a football tailgate party – minus the booze – than an overt protest or demonstration.

But don’t mistake the good-natured mood amongst these unified teachers and their supporters as being one of complacency. Far from it.

Rather, these strikers are digging in their heels – carrying signs full of Will Rogers-level humor and insight - as those elected representatives in the Capitol building behind them, many of them Republicans, do their best to ignore the situation outside the walls of the Capitol.

Scooby and the gang demonstrated their solidarity for Oklahoma public school teachers on Wednesday. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

As I’ve said before, Oklahomans may not make good liberals, but they do make great radicals, in the tradition of state native Woody Guthrie.

April, a student from Guymon, holds a Spanish language sign saying that the protest is for the youth - "Our Future." (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

These teachers have caused the state and the nation to take notice of their plight – one of poverty wages, overcrowded classrooms and a dramatic lack of supplies. It’s quite common for teachers to pay for classroom supplies out of their own pocket.

Red Dirt Report spent Wednesday morning talking to teachers and students from Guymon to Wagoner, and from struggling towns like Seminole that already have major hurdles to overcome with their public schools. Alas, in the past few days, the state’s unpopular and cowardly Gov. Mary Fallin, in league with the crypto-fascist legislature, have so far refused to move forward on any additional school funding measures.

The Tulsa Youth Opera performs for the strikers, demonstrating the importance of the arts in Oklahoma public schools. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, now running for governor as a Democrat, said he was impressed with the turnout, the strike now entering its eighth day.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson was the only visible candidate at the teacher's strike event on Wednesday. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Edmondson said these folks were not "sitting on the sidelines" but instead were getting involved and fighting for what they believed in and he supported that. 

When asked what he thought of the other candidates, primarily the Republicans who have come out against the walk-out, he declined to speculate about what is in their hearts.

There were a few other political figures on hand in the crowd of thousands. But Republicans were noticeably absent, hiding in their offices or who-knows-where. It was quite clear that this crowd has no love for Gov. Mary Fallin.

Striking teachers at the Oklahoma State Capitol. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

And as I drove to the Capitol this morning, I tuned into 1520 AM KOKC and caught The Tod Tucker Show, a right-wing radio show where the host was ranting and raving about the teachers being under the control of the unions. And while Tucker's hateful rhetoric prompted me to turn the dial, the role of the unions in this walk-out is still hazy to me and brings some questions to mind. Would not the teachers be better served to keep free of the union's control and organize other workers to join them in the fight for better wages? Perhaps even leading to a general strike that goes nationwide, especially as Kentucky and Arizona seem keen on striking as well.

It seems as though the Oklahoma Education Association is limiting the scope of what this strike could truly accomplish. What will happen from here remains to be seen.

Sen. Anastasia Pittman (D-OKC) introduces herself to members of the Sistema Tulsa band that played music for the strikers on Wednesday. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

This school band jazzed up a cowbell-friendly version of Twisted Sister's anthem "We're Not Gonna Take It." (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

This pitchfork-wielding cowboy means business! (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Teachers and their allies chill out under a pine tree at the Capitol grounds on Wednesday. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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