An Oklahoma second grade teacher announced she would run for her state representative’s seat, after he posted an angry Facebook live video criticizing teachers for their behavior on Tuesday during the walkout.
In the video, which has since been deleted, Rep. Kevin McDugle said he had been fighting for teachers for the year and a half he’d been in office, but that he would not vote “for another stinking measure when (teachers) are acting the way they are acting.”
On Wednesday, the freshman Republican told teachers gathered outside the state capitol that he had spoken out of frustration, after protesters reacted angrily in the gallery when the House passed the education bill that gives teachers a raise and provides an additional $50 million in school funding.
What Oklahoma teachers want vs. what they've gotten
The Oklahoma teachers' union wants:
- $10,000 raises for teachers
- $5,000 raises for support staff, such as janitors and cafeteria workers
- $200 million in education funding
What just got signed into law:
- Average teacher raises of $6,100
- $1,250 raises for support staff
- $50 million in education funding
Cyndi Ralston said she had planned to announce her campaign for State House District 12 after she filed the official paperwork next week, but the video pushed her to action.
“It was very disrespectful for teachers and I felt it was time,” she said.
Ralston, a Democrat, has taught in the district, which is in a rural area near Tulsa, for more than 30 years. She retired in 2016, but decided to go back to the classroom.
“I missed it terribly,” she said. “I’m just a teacher and it’s hard to step away.”.
The Oklahoma Legislature works from February to May, so she will have to quit if she’s elected.
It was a tough decision for her, but her son, who’s running for the legislature in another district, helped talk her into it.
“I’m going to step up here to do what needs to be done and get Oklahoma education on the path it needs to be on,” she said. “Our students are worth more than what they’re giving us.”
Her school said she can keep teaching through the election, so she’ll do her campaigning on weekends and after school until school gets out.
“All summer I’ll be knocking on doors and meeting people,” Ralston said. “I plan to hit as many doors as I possibly can in the district.”
It’s unclear when the summer break will start. Ralston, like thousands of other teachers, has been protesting at the state capitol and says she won’t give up until schools get the funding they need.
Ralston isn’t the only candidate McDugle has to worry about. Wagoner County Deputy Nick Mahoney is challenging him for the Republican nomination.