In Oklahoma, we all know we are ranked dead last in education and in teacher pay. We face budget cuts every year that send our education system even deeper into the downward spiral it is stuck in, yet our state officials are ranked in the upper numbers in their pay and continue to receive raises yearly (interesting).
Something is not right here.
Not to mention, we are also ranked 47th in the quality of our education. This is blamed on the teacher shortage and budget crisis according to our state superintendent, Joy Hoffmeister. Why is this Mrs. Hoffmeister?
If we are stuck in this problem that continues to get worse, why are we not making major changes? Why are we not taking lessons from surrounding states that rank in the high places of education?
Let's ask our governor, shall we? Oh wait, I forgot, she has been working on daylight savings time bills because they are SO much more important than our state's children and educators at the moment. *insert eye roll*
I, as much as the next person, want to see Oklahoma make major changes regarding our education system, but for those changes to happen, we are going to have to see changes in other state-funded programs as well. Our state needs a budget and priority overhaul.
I surveyed 100 people via Facebook, Twitter and GroupMe and asked two simple questions: Do you support the teacher walk out (strike) in Oklahoma on April 2nd? Why or why not?
Here's what they had to say:
Twitter's anonymous polling had the highest voter turnout. Out of 80 votes, 85% of voters support the teacher strike; only 15% did not. Out of the 577 people that saw this tweet on their timeline, only 80 of them voted.
37 Facebook/GroupMe users voted in an anonymous survey that required them to provide an answer as to why they do or do not support the Oklahoma teacher strike. 86.5% were in support of the strike; only 8.1% were against it (3 voters); only 5.4% of voters were indifferent (2 voters).
So far, basic polling has shown us that over 80% of voters support the Oklahoma teacher strike -- less than 10% of voters were against the strike. Another minuscule percentage didn't really care.
Why are so many people in support of the strike?
A vast majority of the answers included comments like, "Teachers deserve better pay," "Our classrooms are poorly funded," or, "Our children deserve better." All are extremely valid answers, but here is a closer look at some of the actual voter responses:
"I personally know many teachers that left Oklahoma to go to another state to receive better pay because their families were struggling in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma house and senate obviously don’t care enough about teachers’ salary. Many teachers, instead of the school, have to buy their own supplies and supplies for children out of their own salaries because parents refuse to buy supplies for their own children or the school system isn’t able to provide adequate supplies, textbooks, etc. because the school system doesn’t have the money for that either. Teachers sacrifice so much, and they are very under appreciated. No one really seems to be listening, and this is about their last option."
"Teachers do one of the hardest jobs. They deserve more than what they are earning now."
"Oklahoma schools are so underfunded that they no longer provide basic necessities for classrooms. Curriculum is outdated, too many students per teacher and repairs to facilities can’t be performed. The teacher shortage has led to schools hiring questionable and unqualified people that would never have been considered a few years ago."
"We deserve better! Outdated text books, lack of materials to enhance education and overall lack of money for extra curricular activities to keep kids out of trouble is a major problem. We wonder why our prisons are full.
We need a voice. Teachers are a core leg to the stool we call Society. - CBJF
"The state of education in Oklahoma is deplorable. The legislators haven’t/aren’t doing anything to help. A walk-out will bring attention (possibly national) to the problem. 50th in the nation is NOT acceptable."
These comments come from students, parents, teachers, non-Oklahomans, and more. With large numbers coming forward with their support for the teacher strike, that alone speaks volumes for the need for change in Oklahoma. The people making these comments support the teacher strike; I support the teacher strike.
What about those that don't support it? Here are the only three "NO" responses:
"With the amount of hours actually worked hey aren’t paid that bad at all. I do think however school funding needs to be increased."
"I agree that teachers need a pay raise, but it is going to hurt the children. They aren’t going to learn."
"This just creates more friction between everyone."
Regardless of our stances on the teacher strike, the voter responses verbally show the disparity of the Oklahoma education system. Even the "NO" responses agreed that there is a big problem, they just disagreed that a strike is the solution to the problem.
All of the individual responses and survey data can be found here.
Whether a strike is the right answer to the education problems in the state of Oklahoma or not, there is no way to know if it is the wrong answer without giving it a try -- the same as any other proposed solution. Oklahoma needs drastic change.
Drastic change calls for drastic measures.