Today we walked out in Oklahoma.
Not out of selfishness or resentment.
Not out of discourse for our jobs.
Not out of spite.
We walked out – for our kids. Click To Tweet
We walked out because we do not have adequate supplies for our classrooms. We do not have a curriculum for our students. We do not have the necessities necessary to ensure our Oklahoma students are on an equal playing field when it comes down to their future.
We are 50th in the state in per capita funding for our kids, 50th in the state for test scores, 50th in the state for teacher pay. This is unacceptable.
Yes, we have unhappy parents who have been inconvenienced because they have had to find alternative care for their kids. We have teachers (like myself) who are losing out on pay for today. We have legislators who are angry because we are “complaining” about our paychecks, even though “we knew what we were getting into when we signed up to become a teacher.”
Our state as a whole feels like it’s been backhanded, hard, and is in a slow-motion fall onto its ass because we all know that very few solutions can be found in a day.
Many people didn’t believe this day would come. They figured that teachers would cave or settle because of the repercussions a walkout would have on our students.
We realized that change is not going to happen unless we band together, stay the course and DEMAND to be heard, understood and action taken on behalf of the future of Oklahoma students. Click To Tweet
But we are walking FOR our students. We realize that change is not going to happen unless we band together, stay the course and DEMAND to be heard, understood and action taken on behalf of the future of Oklahoma students.
I have so many emotions swirling that have led up to this day. I love my job. I don’t want to look at changing careers because I cannot imagine another career being as fulfilling and gratifying as being in my classroom. And that is where most of us are. We are stuck between choosing to put food on our tables for our families and making a difference for the kids of Oklahoma. It’s definitely not all about pay, but when it comes down to being able to pay bills on the meager salary we are given many of us are having to figure out alternate methods to make ends meet.
I have a Masters degree in education. I have taught for 22 years. When I returned to public education this year I was sought out for my current position by my principal and hired on as a long-term sub since I am certified in early childhood and not special education. No insurance, no retirement, only paid for the days that I am in the classroom when school is in session. $24,000 for August through May. I am teaching in a mild/moderate special education room with children on the spectrum, children with ODD, children who are going through their own personal hell and don’t know how to deal with it other than coming into class and throwing chairs across the room. These are MY kids. AND I LOVE THEM.
We celebrate the progress, not the benchmark. We celebrate taking small steps to becoming good citizens, not the standard that assumes that behavior in everyone. We celebrate the smiles that come with feeling successful even though dad committed suicide a month ago and being proud of accomplishments is not at the top of the list right now. I carry these kids with me everywhere. They are a part of who I am as a person. And they deserve to have someone in their lives who sees their worth, but more importantly who accepts them for who they are RIGHT NOW.
If I can’t pay my bills, I’m forced to look at other places of employment even though I need them as much as they need me.
So yes, today we walk. And we will continue our walk until we get what we are seeking because in Oklahoma, it’s not OK to be 50th, ever.
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