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A look back at the teacher walkout from April 1990

A look back at the 1990 teacher walkout (KTUL)

Talks of a statewide teacher walkout are reminding some of the ones we saw in 1990. It was April 18th, 1990 when Oklahoma teachers manned a picket line at the capitol, among them a 3rd grader from Green Country.

"It was very cold; it was very rainy," said Cory Williams.

Williams is now a teacher himself at Carver Middle School and says the walkout in 1990 was busy.

"There were thousands of teachers there. It was jammed packed crowded," said Williams. "My mom and I made it down there on the last day of the protest, and it was still very big."

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Back in Tulsa, a smaller, much quieter protest was happening on the front lawn of Edison High School.

Paul Fink, a junior at the time, camped out at school for a few days, holding a sign saying, "We'll move when the bill moves."

"We were pretty much there, and we weren't leaving," said Fink. " It was crazy because we just didn't have school to go to. I cared about my education and that's what I needed to get things in life."

"I lived right across the street from the school and saw a tent with two guys for a few days," said Jeff Turner, a former student of Edison High School.

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Turner didn't camp out but did what he could to support his schoolmates.

"I remember calling pizza places trying to get them to deliver them free pizza so they could eat," said Turner. "I didn't know them, but I just love the fact that these guys had come out to make a statement."

After a four-day walkout, the protest worked, and teachers were victorious with the passing of House Bill 1017.

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"Anyone who went to school in the '90s and early 2000's benefited from 1017," said Williams.

House Bill 1017 gave teachers the raises they wanted, smaller classrooms, a better curriculum, and early childhood programs, but here we are again, 28-years later, and teachers are fed up and on the verge of another walkout.

Williams and Fink say the protest from 1990 wasn't for nothing.

"Everybody has an opportunity to win here," said Williams. "Everyone has a chance to do better for our state."

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