Yukon teachers will head back to class on Monday and with that can claim victory.
Did they achieve everything they wanted? No. But they did make an impact on the future of education in Oklahoma.
Yukon, like other schools across the state, sent its teachers to the Capitol in search of additional funding for education.
The efforts brought significant pay raises for not only teachers, but also for support staff and even other state workers, many of whom had not had raises in more than a decade.
In addition, classroom funding has been increased by almost $50 million. That money will be spent inside the classroom for better technology and new textbooks.
That, in itself, is a significant gain.
And it’s not one-time money. These are funds that will be returning each year.
That’s the law.
Late Thursday, Alicia Priest, the former Yukon teacher who heads the Oklahoma Education Association as its president, admitted that continuing the walkout was not likely provide any further benefits for teachers.
In fact, lawmakers already had said there would be no more money for education this year.
Fuel taxes, tobacco taxes and gross production taxes already have been increased in what some lawmakers have called a miracle. Others have referred to the legislation as finding a unicorn because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voted for the increases.
Lawmakers also have added taxes that will be collected by third-party online sellers, and even went as far as to allow ball-and-dice gambling in the state, something that had been forbidden since gaming became legal in Oklahoma.
I am in favor of increased funding for education. But as of now, the Oklahoma Education Association, including members of the Yukon Professional Educators’ Association, have made their point.
It’s time to go back to class. Let’s get this year over with.
Dr. Jason Simeroth said the district will continue to send representatives to the Capitol to continue to push lawmakers to improve education funding.
That allows our teachers to get back to doing what they do best. Teach.
And the students can get back to the job of learning.
In this battle of wills, the true winners should be the students.