It's getting real.
Shawnee schools are out for a seventh school day tomorrow in support of a state-wide teacher walkout.

It's getting real.

Shawnee schools are out for a seventh school day tomorrow in support of a state-wide teacher walkout.

Tuesday is the last day out that the school system will be able to provide meals for students who depend on them. Being out Tuesday also pushes the final day of school back to May 24.

The Oklahoma State Legislature has held on long enough to make sure the teacher walkout is causing some pain. Seriously, though, this is hardly the first time in the past decade that lawmakers have made it tough for educators in Oklahoma.

Every year, a budget came out that either barely projected the same funds as last year or pulled back funding. But thanks to deep and wide tax cuts, most years included at least one revenue failure that caused budget revisions forcing local school boards to make cuts half-way through the year.

The result has been a decade without a raise for teachers and serious cuts in per pupil aid. This wasn't an accident.

The far right faction of the Republican Party in this state wants to force big cuts to education - common and higher education. The narrative is always that there is too much waste in education spending. Of course, they say that there is waste in every department in government.

Most of them have been there eight to ten years and they still say the waste is there and they still haven't found any waste or done anything at all to help find any.

It's almost like all they are doing is talking about waste in other areas while they collect government checks to do nothing. Almost.

Speaking of people who talk about cutting waste and never accomplishing anything, former Sen. Tom Coburn jumped back into Oklahoma politics. Now, he has thrown his weight behind a group who wants to force a veto referendum to overturn the new revenue measures that will fund the recently approved raises for Oklahoma teachers.

For the first time in years, Oklahoma teachers wouldn't be at the bottom of the list in teacher pay.

If this group was to get its repeal measure on the ballot, I think it would fail miserably. Public sentiment is strongly behind teachers and school districts right now. But if a veto referendum were to make it to a ballot and pass, the state would break yet another promise made to its teachers.

It is time for the state to catch up when it comes to education funding. We are seeing far too many school districts changing to four-day weeks. That is an incredible failure to lead. The lawmakers using their majority to restrict education spending are making the state less beneficial to teachers, less effective for students, and less attractive to employers considering where to locate businesses.

After all, saving a half a percent on income taxes is nice, but it isn't worth being unable to find a qualified work force because the state's education system is damaged by underfunding.

I was told this weekend by a friend that he was afraid that Coburn's involvement would help the fringe group take away the funding mechanism for the teacher raises because Coburn is "the most respected Republican in Oklahoma."

What an indictment on a state and its party.

Tom Coburn never did anything for you when he was in the Senate. He spent your money to make a booklet each year about what he thought were examples of wasteful spending. Making that booklet didn't save you money. It cost you money to make it. The only one whose pockets were padded were Coburn who accepted his Senatorial salary even though wasteful spending continued despite his faux outrage.

Now he wants to force an expensive state-wide election that will probably fail. If it passed, education in the state would take another hit and Oklahoma would proudly retake its spot at the bottom of the barrel.

Is this really the goal of "the most respected Republican in the state?"

That's a shame.

For more than a week, tens of thousands of teachers, students and supporters have filled the capital and its grounds chanting and protesting to draw attention to the need for more funding to adequately pay teachers and educate students. A well-paid teacher who has ancient textbooks and insufficient tools to educate students in her class isn't a complete solution.

Oklahoma can do better.

Republicans can lead in that effort. They aren't, but they could.

I worried that the walkout wouldn't be popular across the state since teachers did get a raise just before it started. While I agree that the teacher pay raise is only part of the answer, I feared others in the state would see the teachers as being too greedy and asking for too much.

I really underestimated republican lawmakers' ability to lose a public relations battle. I'm honestly not sure how some of these people got elected.

Mary Fallin has been absent during most days of the walkout - one day she was even invited to Washington D.C. to talk about education and workforce development. I guess it was at the National Irony Conference.

Other lawmakers have gone to social media to record themselves ranting about how they will never support education with another vote - only to delete those videos and replace them with halfhearted apologies. Unfortunately for lawmakers like Kevin McDugal, deleting a Facebook video isn't enough to erase the shame it caused.

Rep. Chris Enns sees tens of thousands of teachers and students and he "hears" that many of these protestors are from Chicago. I know most of them aren't because I see the busloads of friends and neighbors who took their time to support their cause. Others even heard Antifa was there and - my favorite Republican narrative - paid protestors were a big part of the crowd.

No one can name who is paying these protestors. No one found anyone from Antifa. No one even reported a death threat, even though legislative assistants were sent home one day at the start of last week for their safety.

It's silly.

Floor leader Kevin Wallace is in a tough spot. He was able to get votes to pass the teacher pay raises by promising the most conservative members of his caucus that he wouldn't bring the repeal of the capital gains tax to the floor. Passing that measure could end the walkout. Wallace is trying to keep his word to his caucus, but when he made the promise, there hadn't been 25,000-35,000 people on the capital grounds for more than a week. Maybe it is time to reevaluate that promise.

Something has to give or schools will still be in session on July 4.

I've never seen a legislator voted out for supporting education. If they fail to handle their business correctly, I bet we see some voted out for failing to.