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.
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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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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.

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1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten


Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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Coping With The Loss Of A Passion

It's hard to get it back once you lose it.

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In college, time to focus on passions seems limited. The homework, essays, group projects, and exams are never-ending.

In high school, I took my free time for granted. I was dancing four hours four nights a week, but I wasn't constantly stressed. I had time to focus on my passion, which is dance.

In college, I am a part of an amazing dance club. But I don't get to compete, take technique classes, or be with the team I was with since I was 8 years old. Now, I receive videos of my team from home's amazing performances, and it aches a bit. I am so proud and happy for their growth but jealous that they have more years than I do. It is nearly impossible to find technique classes at college to take with no car, little free time, and barely any money. I miss my team, I miss my dance teachers and choreographers, and I miss competitions, but most of all, I miss the person I was when I had the opportunity to pursue my passion several hours a week.

My passion will always be there, and I do get to pursue dance on a smaller scale with some amazing dancers in college, but I am coping with the fact that I will never do another competition with my team again, I will never be able to dance with them again, and I will never be able to learn from my dance teachers again. It's a hard loss, one that I think about every day.

To anyone who still has the opportunities to pursue their passions to the fullest extent, you are lucky. Not everyone gets the chance to keep up with their sport, passion, or activity that they dedicated all of their time to in high school. Don't take a single second of it for granted, and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Take time to reflect on why you love it so much, how it makes you feel, and how you can express yourself during it. Whatever this passion or activity is, make every second count.

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