Ponca City teachers voted yesterday to participate in a statewide teacher walkout beginning April 2 if the Oklahoma Legislature fails to pass legislation that would increase funding to education and other core state agencies by April 1.

“Oklahoma has led the country in cuts to education funding over the last 10 years. In recent years, we’ve had more teachers leave the profession than join the profession,” says Ponca City Association of Classroom Teachers president and high school science teacher Zach Murray. “We met yesterday after school to discuss questions and concerns regarding a work stoppage. We will be working with local churches and other community groups to ensure that the students of Ponca City who rely on school for breakfast and lunch are taken care of. Despite these concerns, the support for a walkout was overwhelming.”

After multiple failed attempts over the last two years to increase teacher pay, what began as a grassroots effort to force the issue, has quickly engulfed the state. The Ponca City Public Schools Board of Education joined many other local boards Monday evening in passing a resolution to encourage legislators to act.

“Most teachers don’t want to walkout, but they feel they have to,” reported Ponca City Schools Superintendent Shelley Arrott.

“We’ve reached a tipping point as a state where we will either properly invest in the education of our students or continue a downward spiral and lose more and more teachers to surrounding states,” Murray said.

The Ponca City Association of Classroom Teachers will be holding a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 29, in the West Middle School Auditorium to address questions and concerns the community may have about the possible school closure.