A photo essay by Jacob Factor
Wednesday March 28, the Oklahoma Legislature passed bill 1010xx, giving teachers a 6,100 dollar raise for the 2018-2019 school year. What the bill did not contain was a permanent solution for teacher pay or funding for schools which would buy classroom resources such as textbooks, technology and school supplies. In response to that, Monday April 2 teachers in over 170 school districts across the state “walked out” and headed to the Capitol.
The NEA president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, spoke at the Walkout. She led the crowd in a song: “We’re fighting for our children, and we shall not be moved. Just like a tree planted by the water, we shall not be moved.”
Some were there to demand more funding for schools.
Some called out their representatives to make a change.
Over 20,000 people gathered at the Capitol Monday: teachers, students and parents. The crowd gathered at the front steps of the Capitol.
Many teachers have left Oklahoma to go to states with better pay.
Because of this, schools have had to hire temporary teachers that aren’t certified so they can have enough employees.
Even then, for some schools, that’s not enough teachers, so their class sizes have grown from the required 20 students into the 40s.
The crowd started a picket line and walked around the Capitol.
“We give our blood; we give our sweat; we give our early mornings; we give our dollars for our students,” Garcia said.
The West Virginia Education Association president, Dale Lee, was also in attendance. He said, “We didn’t get into this for the riches, but we get richer every day when a student comes back to tell us we made a difference in their lives.”
Patricia Limon came to the walkout to support her grandchildren, who are Oklahoma students.
Brenda Lopez (pictured) also went to the Walkout to support her granddaughter, Kynnadee, who is an Oklahoma student.
Lopez’s granddaughter, Kynnadee
Students came to support their teachers.
Students from Edmond Memorial High School supported their teacher by setting up chairs and tables at the Capitol to have a mock class. They worked on ACT Prep while their teacher oversaw them.
The bill 1010xx raised the gas and energy taxes by six percent. Those industries have threatened to leave Oklahoma if it raised any more than that. (Picture: teacher picket line at the Capitol with Devon Energy Tower in the background)
“Funding education shouldn’t be historical. It should be normal,” Hope Davis, a student at Moore High School said in front of the crowd. She said in some of her classes she has textbooks from 2005, which is a problem most schools in Oklahoma have.
Teachers stand in front of the Capitol windows hoping legislators will see.
Most teachers don’t make enough money to support themselves or their families, so they have to get second, or even third jobs, to live.
Some go to more extreme measures to make money.
Before bill 1010xx passed, Oklahoma was ranked 50th in education.
The next state election is in November, and teachers have started running against politicians for public office.
Schools have announced that they will be closed through the end of the week, and teachers say they will stay at the Capitol as long as it takes for something to change.