Oklahoma’s educational system is in crisis.
Luckily, we have some great teachers who are willing to fight for what’s right. Beginning April 2, they are following through on their plan to walk out in order to get raises for teachers and admins, as well as increased school funding.
I spoke with my mom for her insight on the situation. She was a middle school English teacher in Oklahoma for 25 years before retiring a couple of years ago.
As of right now, schools are closed on Monday. Whether the teacher walkout extends beyond that depends on the state legislature. Negotiations are in the works as we speak.
Here is a telling stat:
“Oklahoma teacher pay is lowest in the region and near the lowest in the country, contributing to the state’s historic teacher shortage. In the last three years, Oklahoma has approved more than 2,600 emergency teaching certificates, leaving tens of thousands of Oklahoma students with underprepared, underqualified teachers.”
What will I as a parent do during the school closure? I’m hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. As with any household in which both parents work full-time, the prospect of sourcing emergency childcare is daunting.
In my case, my boys are older, which helps. So my task is to create lessons to keep them busy and their brains from turning to mush during this time.
It’s important that this endeavor is successful for the teachers and for our schools. I want my kids to be taught by bright, qualified minds (which, for the record, they are – they have fantastic teachers this year). Kids should have the opportunities that can make them capable, thriving adults.
This isn’t just touchy-feely stuff.
We’re gambling with our futures by not investing in education. These are the people who will be entering the workforce soon. They’ll be our colleagues and eventually our successors. Do we want a strong economy? To be competitive in the global marketplace? Continuous advancements in technology, medicine, and science? A viable social security fund? Then we need a successful Generation Z and beyond.
Education is also important for a peaceful, safe society. Here are a couple of statistics connecting education and the crime rate:
“Seventy-five percent of adults incarcerated in state prisons lack a high school diploma or have low literacy skills.”
“The nation could save as much as $18.5 billion in annual crime costs if the high school male graduation rate increased by only 5 percentage points.”
The solution in Oklahoma is still yet to be determined, but it’s not a problem unique to our state. West Virginia teachers recently walked out and received a 5% raise. Kentucky teachers walked out on Friday when a surprise bill was passed to overhaul their pensions. Arizona teachers are also threatening to strike if they don’t get pay raises.
I don’t have the answers here, but as a start, this article from NPR has some ideas.
You can watch this and other booktube videos on my Read Remark YouTube channel, where you’ll usually find me reviewing books.