Winners and Losers of the Great OK Teacher Walkout of 2018
9:44 AM EDT on April 17, 2018
That was a fun extended recess!
After two spirited weeks of communal gathering, marching and clever sign making, the Oklahoma Education Association waved the oxymoronic white flag of victory last Thursday and officially ended the Great Oklahoma Teachers Walkout of 2018. The general reaction has been hugs, shrugs and "What The Fugs?"
Here are the basic details via Aaron Brildork with News 9:
Nine days after it started, the teacher walkout is over in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Education Association is claiming victory, even though lawmakers refused to budge on the $2.9 billion education spending plan it passed before the walkout.
“We absolutely have a victory for teachers. Half a billion dollars is a victory,” said OEA President Alicia Priest.
Wait a second? The OEA is claiming victory? That would be like Mike Gundy saying OSU won last year's Bedlam game because they kept it close for a while. Yes, the threat of a walkout helped convince lawmakers to finally give teachers a raise and, yes, our teachers fought hard and inspired people from all over the world, but outside of some free pizza and positive recognition, the teachers didn't really get any of their walkout demands met. It's a moral victory at best.
Obviously, there's a lot to process, digest and say about the Teachers Walkout saga. We attempt to do some of that with this clickable and extremely sharable list of winners and losers:
Congrats teachers! You put yourself first for once and got a $6,000 per year pay raise! Sure, some of you will still be working in shabby classrooms only four days a week, but that extra couple hundred dollars deposited into you checking account each month will be nice.
All I ask is that you don't get too fat and happy. This state has a bunch of issues to fix and you need to keep up the fight. You're the only liberal-leaning group Republicans will kind of take seriously. We don't want your next raise to come after the Great Teacher Walkout of 2034.
Loser: Mary Fallin
Everyone criticized Mary Fallin for dodging teachers during the walkout, but after seeing her gaffe-riddle interviews and tone-deaf statements she's given to the media, that now seems like her only smart idea. What has happened to this woman and where are the brain cells? She's turned into the James the Marvel (RIP) of Oklahoma politicians. If she was at the capitol during the walkout, she probably would have instructed teachers to play the world's largest game of Heads -Up Seven-Up or led a sing-a-long to "If You're Happy and You Know It."
Winners: Oil Overlords
A week or so before the walkout, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm – one of the most feared and powerful Oklahoma oil overlords – silently watched over lawmakers as they voted to raise gross production taxes to 5% to help fund teacher pay raises. At the time, it looked like he was trying to decide which career to ruin first, but now I'm wondering if it was an act. I'm sure Harold wants people to think he’s all bothered by the GPT increase, but deep down, I doubt he really cares. The 5% GPT is still the lowest of any gas-producing region, and really won't affect their companies' bottom lines.
As an added bonus, lawmakers didn't raise income or capital gains taxes. They'll also likely go after wind tax credits. Basically, Harold and the other Oil Overlords have strengthened their hold on government and added to their personal fortunes. They should be in a room right now laughing and lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills.
Losers: Oklahoma Education Association
As we highlighted on Friday, bashing the OEA is all the rage right now. And for good reason. They've been playing a reactionary game and always felt step or two behind during this entire education funding crisis nightmare. It's like they're playing Game of Oklahoma Political Thrones with Mace Tyrell and Lancel Lannister while the Oil Overlords and Republicans have Tyrion and Littlefinger.
The complaints against OEA are legit. They've done a poor job of reading and organizing their base. Remember – teachers basically launched this walkout on their own via social media.
They were also never clear about what they wanted. In 2016, they strongly supported the imperfect SQ 779. They also backed and endorsed Step Up Oklahoma this January. But when lawmakers approved a $474-million package and a teacher pay raise of $6,000, something on-par with 779 and Step Up, the OEA stood firm on a hastily put together $1.3-billion budget package. It's like they were a teenager asking for a bett... wait... I think I'll avoid that analogy.
In all fairness, the OEA does have a good excuse for coming up a loser. They're a left-leaning union that represents teachers and educators in a conservative state that doesn't really seem to value unions, teachers or educators. That's not exactly a great setup for success. It can make lobbying for education funding about as productive as yelling at a broken vending machine to give your money back.
Winners: Hobby Lobby
How much poster board, construction paper, markers, glitter, glue and stolen ancient artifacts did Hobby Lobby sell at the walkout? It has to be in the millions of dollars. Thanks to a shortage, I heard the street value for thick red Sharpies at the walkout was $12 a pop.
Losers: Girl attorneys dressed in black
Outside agitators were a big problem at the walkout, but perhaps none caused a bigger scene than the girl attorneys dressed in black who descended upon the capitol to cause havoc and create civil unrest. Under the ruse of "negotiating with lawmakers for teachers," they were casing the crowd for new adoption clients and to see if anyone was injured by a wayward sign or ruler.
Around 200 female attorneys marched to the Capitol Monday, dressed in all black, to add pressure to our lawmakers to fully fund public education.
The attorneys said they weren’t there to take over, but to be the muscle behind the movement, and the crowd was ecstatic to see them.
They call themselves the “Girl Attorneys.”
"The “Girl Attorney” moniker was kind of a joke because we tend to, sometimes, in our profession, we get looked down upon because we're women," attorney Stacy Acord said. "I think they better not underestimate us."
I know this was a good-hearted gesture, but why didn't these lawyers just show up at the capitol unannounced? Why'd the have to be so public about it? It felt bit like self-serving coat-tail riding. Teachers don't need the help of lawyers looking for publicity. Let teachers have their day(s).
Whether it was social media, print media, online media, tv media, national media, or satirical media, the media coverage of the Teachers Walkout was solid and expected. It was your standard mix of breaking live coverage layered between countless human interest segments, sub-plots, narratives and viral videos.
But what makes "Media" the true winner is the ratings. They were huge!!! I've been told social media "like" records were set amongst all platforms! Teachers sure do love reading about other teachers, especially when you're on the side of teachers.
Winner: Oklahoma GOP Establishment
Outside of a few expected PR gaffes from idiot lawmakers, Republicans handled the walkout like the heavy favorites they were. They scored the first punch by voting for the teacher pay increase only a few days before the walkout. When it passed, it seemed to catch the OEA, Democrats and the grassroots teachers off guard. Then, when the walkout went into effect, Republicans wouldn't budge or cave to public pressure! They stood their ground, knew the walkout would lose momentum and teachers would eventually feel guilty and return to the classroom.
Also, by securing a $6,000 teacher pay raise, Republicans successfully tackled the one political issue where Oklahoma Dems held a decisive advantage – teacher pay. With that gone, Republicans can now get back to focusing on more important tasks, like sabotaging Oklahoma government and keeping us at the bottom.
Loser: Oklahoma Democrats
Oklahoma Democrats did accomplish their goals of raising the GPT to 5% and getting teachers a big raise, so you can't call them total losers. That being said, they royally misplayed their hand. The teacher pay issue was the Democrats ace in the hole. It was the one issue they could play at any time and still have support. Now that ace is digging on some prime rib at the Winstar buffet.
The Democrats made several key mistakes. The first occurred in 2016 when Scott Inman and Co. claimed they'd back any teacher pay plan that increased the GPT to 5%, as opposed to a more negotiable 7% or 10%. That ruined any leverage Dems had.
The Dems also messed up by voting for the most recent pay plan. It was the right thing to do, but the wrong time to do it. With the walkout schedule, Democrats should have worked with their pals at the OEA, delayed the measure, and let the teachers walkout begin with no deal in place. That would have likely put even more pressure on Republican lawmakers and given the walkout more meaning.
Winner: High School Bands
As a former band nerd, it felt good to see all the band nerds show up at the walkout and play background music for the teachers. Every nerd has his or her day!
Asshole Losers: Tom Coburn and the Derplahoman Nut Jobs
Not too long after the teacher pay raise plan was passed, angry old Dr. Tom Coburn brushed the dust off the obstructionist jacket he wore in the Senate and announced he would lead a petition effort to repeal the legislation. It's a stupid move and will hopefully fail just like the referendum on HB 1017 , but it can possibly delay the implementation of the teacher pay raise for a year or so. For that, we give him the special designation of asshole loser. He deserves it.
Anyway, I guess that concludes our list. Thoughts? Concerns? Let us know in the comments.
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