DURANT, Okla. (KXII) Thousands were back at the Oklahoma Capitol today protesting a lack of funding, though the crowds were noticeably smaller as many are shifting gears from walking out to running for office.
After wrangling a $6,000 raise and millions more in additional funding Oklahoma’s largest teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, called for an end to the historic walkout on Thursday and the beginning of a new focus.
“Election Season,” OEA President Alicia Priest said. “We must work harder than ever to elect education champions that will put students first.”
While others plan to keep on at the Capitol until the Legislature approves more funding, educators like Republican David Bullard, who filed for the District 6 Senate Seat, are answering the election call.
“If you want to have a good economy in your state you better have a good education system because that’s the first question they’re going to ask,” Bullard said.
Bullard teaches AP US History and AP Government at Denison High School- voted Teacher of the Year 2016.
He says he wasn’t able to take part in the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout because he was teaching across the border.
“It’s given me a very unique perspective,” Bullard said. “My wife is an assistant principal at Durant High School and we’ve got two girls in the Oklahoma schools so I’ve got a vested interest in it, but I wasn’t able to go.”
He tells us he had already made the decision to run for District 6 a year ago, a spot up for grabs after Incumbent Republican Josh Brecheen announced he won't seek re-election.
Republican Erick Wyatt of Kingston, a retired Army Combat veteran. He told us education is personally important to him, because of his four daughters.
“We need to come up with common sense solutions to school funding through audits of the State Department of Education as well as tracking down where all the revenue from horse racing, lottery and casinos are going before we add more taxes onto the people of our great state,” Wyatt said.
And another lifelong educator, Arnold Bourne, a Democrat who recently retired from teaching agriculture at Durant ISD.
Bourne told us in a statement:
“Each student in my Senate District 6, as well as the students of Oklahoma, should have an excellent education. A well-educated populace will serve the state of Oklahoma well in the new millennium.”
A third teacher, 2017 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Jon Hazell, announced he was also running for the spot but later withdrew his name, saying he wanted to continue teaching instead.
Ada Junior High School Principal Ronny Johns also announced he is running for office, filing for House District 25.