Why You Should Support The Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

Why You Should Support The Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

This isn't about a pay raise - it is about Oklahoma's future.

The Oklahoma teacher walkout planned April 2 has sparked controversy across the state. Oklahoma teachers have vowed to walkout of their schools if the Oklahoma Legislature doesn't take acceptable actions by March 28.

This walkout isn't solely about the improvement of teacher pay, it is also in an effort to be able to pay for more support staff and an overall increase in the funding of education. Oklahoma ranks 49th in teacher pay, and ranks 47th in per pupil spending.

In Blanchard, Oklahoma, teachers and administration for Bridge Creek Public Schools are prepared to walkout on April 2. Bridge Creek's middle school principal Kenny Ward said that lack of action by the Oklahoma Legislature over the years has swayed him to support the upcoming teacher walkout.

"I have spoken against a teacher walkout for years," Ward said. "I felt it would only make the issue worse and lower the respect of the profession. As years have past with no action to remedy teacher pay in Oklahoma as well as school funding in general, it has become a desperate situation."

Since 2008, education funding in Oklahoma has been cut approximately 28 percent. This means that over the last decade state general funding is down nearly $130 million while K-12 enrollment has grown by more than 50 thousand students. Jenny Goldsmith, a middle school teacher for Bridge Creek, said that her class sizes have notably increased.

"We have grown by leaps and bounds the last few years," said Goldsmith. "My 7th hour class currently sits at 31 kids. Try dissecting and carrying out experiments with those numbers."

The overwhelming class sizes are directly correlated with the lack of funding for public education. Lack of funding means lack of resources. Goldsmith has had to receive donations in order to dissect in her classroom along with being able to afford numerous supplies like gloves, aprons and cleaning supplies.

Oklahoma has nearly two thousand emergency certified teachers with 536 teacher vacancies still left open this year, and nearly 500 teacher positions eliminated since last year. Oklahoma colleges aren't graduating enough teachers to satisfy the need of Edmond schools alone.

"We are in crisis mode," Ward said. "We are emergency certifying thousands of teachers just in an attempt to get warm bodies in classrooms."

With new graduating teachers leaving the state for a starting salary of upwards $20 thousand more than they would make in Oklahoma, there is an ongoing struggle to attract qualified teachers to Oklahoma classrooms.

Monica Stewart, a middle school teacher for Bridge Creek, has been a special education teacher for many years. When Stewart moved in 2016 from Texas to Oklahoma she took a $21 thousand pay cut.

"Just think, in five years a Texas teacher will have made $100 thousand more than an Oklahoma teacher," Stewart said. "I have a masters degree and 20 years experience as a teacher, but I still make $10 thousand less than a first year teacher in Texas."

A drastic salary change isn't the only consequence Stewart has encountered moving to Oklahoma.

"My special ed case load has increased significantly," Stewart said.

Stewart not only teaches her own direct instruction students, but she and only one other special ed teacher along with two paraprofessionals support sixth through eighth grade general education teachers in accommodating the various needs of students who receive special ed services.

"I enjoy my job and love my students, but it's a challenging task," Stewart said. "I wish we had more support."

When Oklahoma teachers walkout on April 2 due to lack of funding, it isn't just about their low salaries. It is about every Oklahoma student's future.

Oklahoma teachers have kept quiet about their pay for over 10 years, but with the lack of funding in education affecting their students' futures teachers refuse to stay quiet. Oklahoma teachers and administrators are not walking out for money, but they are walking out for Oklahoma's future.

"Getting current teachers more money is very much needed," said Ward. "The reality is, that is but a small part of why we must increase teacher pay and school funding in Oklahoma. It’s more about future years and the future of our kids."

Bridge Creek educators will wear the T-shirt pictured above when they march at Oklahoma's Capitol on April 2.

Cover Image Credit: Tulsa World

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Stop Discourging Future Teachers

One day, you'll be thankful for us.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?" It seems like this is the question we heard from the time we were able to talk. Our answers started out as whatever movie or action figure was popular that year. I personally was going to be Cinderella and shoot spider webs out of my wrists at the same time. The next phase was spent choosing something that we read about in a book or saw in movies. We were aspiring to be actors, skydivers, and astronauts.

After we realized NASA may not necessarily be interested in every eager 10-year-old, we went through the unknown stage. This chapter of life can last a year or for some, forever. I personally did not have a long “unknown" stage. I knew I was going to be a teacher, more specifically I knew I wanted to do elementary or special education. I come from a family of educators, so it was no surprise that at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas functions I had actually figured it out. The excitement of knowing what to do with the rest of my life quickly grew and then began to dwindle just as fast.


"Well, looks like you'll be broke all your life."

“That's a lot of paperwork."

“If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't choose this."

These are just a few replies I have received. The unfortunate part is that many of those responses were from teachers themselves. I get it, you want to warn and prepare us for the road we are about to go down. I understand the stress it can take because I have been around it. The countless hours of grading, preparing, shopping for the classroom, etc. all takes time. I can understand how it would get tiresome and seem redundant. The feeling a teacher has when the principal schedules yet another faculty meeting to talk an hour on what could've been stated in an email… the frustration they experience when a few students seem uncontrollable… the days they feel inadequate and unseen… the sadness they feel when they realize the student with no supplies comes from a broken home… I think it is safe to say that most teachers are some of the toughest, most compassionate and hardworking people in this world.

Someone has to be brave enough to sacrifice their time with their families to spend time with yours. They have to be willing to provide for the kids that go without and have a passion to spread knowledge to those who will one day be leading this country. This is the reason I encourage others to stop telling us not to go for it.

Stop saying we won't make money because we know. Stop saying we will regret it, because if we are making a difference, then we won't. Stop telling us we are wasting our time, when one day we will be touching hearts.

Tell us to be great, and then wish us good luck. Tell us that our passion to help and guide kids will not go unnoticed. Tell us that we are bold for trying, but do not tell us to change our minds.

Teachers light the path for doctors, police officers, firefighters, politicians, nurses, etc. Teachers are pillars of society. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we seek to change a life or two, so encourage us or sit back and watch us go for it anyways.

Cover Image Credit: Kathryn Huffman

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14 Honest College Things The Class Of 2023 Needs To Know ~Before~ Fall Semester

Sit down, be humble.


To The Class of 2023,

Before you start your college career, please know:

1. Nobody...and I mean nobody gives a shit about your AP Calculus scores.


" I got a 5 in Calc AB AND BC, a 5 in AP Literature, awh but I only got a 4 in AP Chem"

2. THE SAME GOES FOR YOUR SAT/ACT SCORES + nobody will know what you're talking about because they changed the test like 10 times since.


3. College 8 AMs are not the same as your 0 period orchestra class in 12th grade.


4. You're going to get rejected from a lot of clubs and that does not make you a failure.


5. If you do get into your clubs, make sure not to overwhelm or overcommit yourself.

visual representation of what it looks like when you join too many clubs


6. It's OK to realize that you don't want to be pre-med or you want to change majors.


7. There will ALWAYS ALWAYS be someone who's doing better than you at something but that doesn't mean you're behind.


8. "I'm a freshman but sophomore standin-" No, you don't have to clarify that, you'll sound like an asshole.


9. You may get your first ever B-, C+ or even D OR EVEN A W in your life. College is meant to teach you how to cope with failure.


10. Go beyond your comfort zone. Join a theatre club if you're afraid of public speaking. Join an animal rescue club if you're afraid of animals. College is learning more about yourself.


11. Scholarships do exist. APPLY APPLY APPLY.


12. Don't try to brag about all the stuff you did in high school, you'll just sound like a weenie hut jr. scout


13. Understand and be sensitive to the fact that everybody around you has a different experience and story of getting to university.


14. You're going to be exposed to people with different opinions and views, don't fight them. Instead, try to explain your perspective and listen to their reasoning as well.


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