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Tulsa Public School teachers protest low wages

According to a colleague, some teachers are calling in sick to protest low teacher pay. (Mummolo/KTUL)

Fed up with low teacher pay, and continued gridlock at the capitol to do anything about it, some teachers at Tulsa Public Schools have decided that a stronger message needs to be sent.

"Nobody's going to confess, and nobody's going to turn anybody else in," said Larry Cagle. He normally teaches AP English at Edison, but today he's educating the public about an underground political movement within TPS.

"Some teachers a few weeks ago decided to sick-out in unison, and it caused 50 teachers between Edison and Booker T to be absent on the same day, making it very difficult for administrators to handle the class," Cagle said. "Those students ended up having to sit in auditoriums with one person overseeing 3, 4, 5 classes at a time, which was the intended goal."

The Superintendent's office said they'd be available for an interview on the topic Thursday.

"I have had no members reach out to me about this," said Shawna Mott-Wright of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.

They just learned about it today, and think the people behind it are non-union members and essentially a fringe group.

"It has to be a fringe group," Mott-Wright said.

Fringe or not, they're already having an impact.

"I'm inspired by their courage to take that kind of risk," Cagle said.

Cagle did not participate in the sick-out but is sympathetic to the cause.

"I just came from Quik Trip over on Peoria where I bumped into a former Edison student who said, 'Hey Mr. Cagle how are you?' And I said I'm doing fine how's Quik Trip treating you? And they said, 'I'm doing great, you know I heard I get more than you in salary.' And she was right. Here she is two years out of high school and here I am fifteen years in education, and I have a student making more than I am," he said.

Pushed to wit's end, some teachers are trying to teach legislators a lesson in political action through civil disobedience.

"I do know that there are plans for them to do other types of protests," Cagle said.

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