It’s not for the children.
OKLAHOMA CITY/TULSA, Okla. (Reuters) – High school physics teacher Craig Hoxie filed to run for Oklahoma’s House of Representatives on Friday, a day after the end of a two-week teacher walkout that had pressed lawmakers for school funding.
“A week ago, I would have told you I wasn’t going to do it,” said the 48-year-old Army veteran who has worked in public schools for 18 years, as he drove to the state election board office to submit his paperwork to become a Democratic candidate in this fall’s election. “There is a funding crisis with all public services in our state.”
Teachers and parents in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kentucky and Arizona have staged collective actions in recent weeks, seeking higher wages and education spending. They say years of budget reductions have decimated public school systems in favor of tax cuts.
Protests in those Republican-dominated states have encouraged teachers unions and Democratic candidates who will try to capitalize on the outrage to score electoral victories. In November’s mid-term elections, 36 governorships and thousands of state legislative seats will be up for grabs. […]
The union, typically aligned with the Democratic Party, has targeted a number of key states with plans to mobilize in statehouse, gubernatorial and congressional elections this fall.
Nationwide, progressive causes have seen a surge of enthusiasm since Republican President Donald Trump’s election. Protesters have rallied on issues as wide ranging as gun control, gender equality, science and immigrants’ rights.
The Oklahoma walkout demonstrated the power of collective action to influence Republican lawmakers, as well as its limits. The legislature boosted annual education funding by about $450 million and raised teacher pay by an average of about $6,100, yet those figures remained short of the teachers’ demands.
The state’s largest union, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), declared victory and turned its attention to the fall elections to continue the fight for more funding. At least a dozen Oklahoma teachers are seeking office.