It looks like the media and the left have found a new argument in their quest to prove that Republicans hate children. Taking a break from accusing Republicans of hating children for refusing to jump on board with student activists demanding gun control, CNN's At This Hour has found a new sympathetic group to rally around: activist Oklahoma public school teachers.
A multitude of teachers in Oklahoma walked out of their classrooms and descended on the State Capitol for a second day in a row on Tuesday, demanding higher pay and increased education funding. Guest host Brianna Keilar described the walkout as part of "a growing movement, an education uprising of sorts, in largely Republican states."
The walkouts in Oklahoma come just weeks after West Virginia public school teachers participated in a nine-day strike, which ended after they successfully negotiated a raise of five percent. Public school teachers in Kentucky and Arizona have indicated a desire to participate in similar walkouts, hoping to use their strikes to highlight their objections to a pension overhaul and demand higher pay, respectively.
Last week, the Oklahoma Governor signed a bill that would raise taxes by $400 million, paving the way for a $6,000 teacher pay raise. This did not meet the demands of the Oklahoma Education Association thus failing to avert a strike.
CNN reporter Nick Valencia reported from the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, praising the “very vibrant scene inside the State House.” As he finished his report, he made sure to note the “I’m going to step out of the way so you can see the crowd here. They’re not going anywhere, Brianna. They promise to continue their fight here at the State House for as long as it takes.”
The media expects the American public to see it as a mere coincidence that they have done so much advocacy on behalf of gun control advocates and teachers’ unions in recent weeks. In reality, they serve as two of the most important political constituencies of the Democratic Party.
The teachers also complained that Oklahoma ranks toward the bottom five among the fifty states for per-pupil spending, acting as if there is a perfect correlation between per-pupil spending and student performance. If that was the case, then the District of Columbia, which consistently ranks in the top five highest per-pupil spending in the country, would certainly have a higher academic performance. However, all that spending does not seem to yield positive results as the nation’s capital boasts an abysmal high school graduation rate and its test scores routinely rank at the bottom; proving some truth to the old age that money can’t buy everything.
To the media’s delight, it looks like the “Red State Revolt” will continue for the foreseeable future.
A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more:
At This Hour
BRIANNA KEILAR: For the second day in a row, public schools in Oklahoma City are shut down as teachers continue their statewide walkout. They’re demanding better pay and more funding for students. Parents, teachers and students have taken to social media to show broken furniture, tattered textbooks that are sometimes older than the students themselves, and it’s all part of a growing movement, an education uprising of sorts in largely Republican states. CNN’s Nick Valencia is in Oklahoma City. And Nick, these teachers, they aren’t backing down. How is the state legislature responding?
NICK VALENCIA: Well, they’re saying that, essentially warning these teachers to temper their expectations, that they got what they are going to get to this point, Governor Fallin coming out this morning trying to tell educators that it doesn’t seem that they’re going to be willing to go any steps further. What we’re seeing here today is a very vibrant scene inside the State House, Brianna, about 100 feet or so behind me is the steps to the House of Representatives chamber as educators have stood out there chanting “we’re not leaving. We want funding.” I’m joined by one of those educators now, Jason Lightle, you’re an English teacher, Special Ed Education, why did you show up here today?
JASON LIGHTLE: I showed up here yesterday. And the narrative yesterday was that the teachers are not showing up to increase their own pay, the teachers are showing up because the other two prongs of the original OEA ask were completely ignored and their offers were insulting. We need infrastructure funds and we need support funds.
VALENCIA: We’re hearing of tactics of intimidation from some of the smaller Superintendents in these districts here in the state, especially in Western Heights, Oklahoma. Talk to us about that.
LIGHTLE: We knew that was going on last week. We were waiting for a spearhead to rise out of the muck and I believe that Western Heights is that spearhead. Western Heights is a school district; it’s a suburb of Oklahoma City. I have documents on my Facebook page, Jason Lightle, you can probably find me, my name is probably underneath my...
VALENCIA: We’re hearing that they’re saying they’re potentially going to be fired if they show up here today, if not fined at the very least.
LIGHTLE: Absolutely. I have more information to put there but the infrastructure, the cell phone infrastructure is crumbling here too. So we can’t get stuff out. But that is what I have been told by numerous teachers. I think that, I think that it’s going to be better tomorrow.
VALENCIA: Jason, we’re going to let you get back to going to continue on with your demonstration. There are clearly more and more people showing up here today and we’re hearing reports that they are potentially detaining educators here, they’re not allowing anymore people inside. I’m going to step out of the way so you can see the crowd here. They’re not going anywhere, Brianna. They promise to continue their fight here at the State House for as long as it takes.
KEILAR: So tell us, Nick, a little bit about what people are...what people there are doing. Who they’re trying to be heard by, I mean, it is really an incredible scene we’re seeing behind you.
VALENCIA: They’re trying to be heard at the very least by their Representatives, by their Senators. I spoke earlier to educators who had told me they went into the office of Senator Bice, who told them that they’re not going to get anymore than they’ve already gotten. And that’s just not enough for them, Brianna. What they’re asking for is not only a $10,000 raise. They’re asking for more funding for the classrooms. We yesterday spoke to a little girl, nine years old, who goes to school locally here in Oklahoma City, part of her ceiling is collapsing. She says she has asthma and leaves school every day sick because of the mold in the classroom. We’re hearing teachers talk to us about their...what they’re calling dumb pads, not smart pads, some of these kids are issued iPads but there is no wi-fi in the classroom. In other cases, they’ve gone to four-day workweeks, four-day workweeks in the districts here because they just can’t afford to keep the lights on an extra day. In other cases, educators are trying to get second or third jobs just to meet the bills. Brianna?
KEILAR: Yeah, four-day workweeks, four days a week instead of five for kids in school, it’s pretty astounding. Nick Valencia, thank you so much.