Educators and supporters of more education funding who claimed seats in the Legislature could help push the issue when the next session starts in February.
Mickey Dollens, a Democrat and a former teacher at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, and Rhonda Baker, a Republican and middle school teacher in Yukon, were some of the notable “teachers’ caucus” winners of the night.
The informal group is made up of dozens of current and former educators, parents and public education advocates who filed for election earlier this year. Many of these are political newcomers who campaigned on a pledge to secure more money for common education.
A group called Oklahoma Educators and Parents for Public Education endorsed dozens of these candidates earlier the year. The group has 24,700 Facebook members and a political action committee, Oklahomans for Public Education, to support selected candidates.
The group endorsed 24 non-incumbents who went on to win their general election contests Tuesday. An additional 18 incumbents backed by the group, including Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma, also won re-election.
“The fact that it’s now trendy and cool to be pro-public education — to me that’s a win,” said Angela Clark Little, who heads the organization
However, other notable candidates such as Shawn Sheehan and John Waldron, both high school teachers, didn’t win their races.
Sheehan, who also spoke in favor of SQ 779, addressed a misconception about teaching last week. People think the job doesn’t require much more pay because it is supposed to be intrinsically motivating.
“We knew we weren’t going to get rich in this profession, but it’s not mission work,” he said. Sheehan’s wife is also a teacher, and they recently had a baby.