TULSA — With less than two weeks left now before the deadline teachers have set for a statewide walkout, plans are in motion to stage a series of concerts both as a fundraising mechanism, and to grow support for the teachers.
A Facebook group called "Oklahoma Teachers United" is spearheading the effort, with a major assist from nationally-known concert promoter Johnny Buschardt.
OTU founder Larry Cagle told KRMG Monday the goal is not only to raise some money, but also to “reach out to the community as a whole. We need to unite as a state, and beyond our political ideology. This is not a Republican or a Democrat position, we all want great schools.”
He said they are involved in talks with some major Oklahoma music stars, although KRMG has agreed not to name them.
Cagle said they don’t want to leave the impression they’re trying to pressure any of those stars, but says some of them have definitely expressed interest.
“There’s no question that these people want to get behind it, I don’t think that’s really the concern there,” Cagle said. “I think it’s just a question of ‘is this the venue, is this the time, is this place?’”
He says a walkout, which he believes is all but inevitable, will mean educators and families across the state will need a lot of help.
“We should begin to plan, and prepare for that. These concerts could do a tremendous amount to the charitable organizations, the churches, even some of our local community organizations that help with food distribution,” he said.
The plan is to hold a one or two major concerts in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, but Cagle also hopes to put together other events across the state, because the vast majority of Oklahoma’s school districts are in rural areas.
“Tulsa and Oklahoma City have great networks for providing financial support to students who are dependent on breakfast and lunch, a lot of the rural communities do not have that support. And it goes beyond just food too, it also goes to care. Who’s going to look after these children?”
The money raised would be administered by an outside agency with experience in large-scale crisis management.
“We’re looking a couple of groups that have submitted proposals that would over see that, that people in the Oklahoma community at large would feel confident in getting behind,” Cagle told KRMG.
For example, he added, they’re speaking with organizations that worked to help with the recent teacher walkout in Virginia.
Meanwhile, thousand of teachers across the state plan to stay home beginning April 2nd, and stay home until the state meets their demands.