Educators across the country in Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia are sharing their voices around the need for support, resources, sufficient wages, class size, and more. They are walking out, walking in, marching on state capitols, and talking with legislators. In many cases they have strong encouragement from their Superintendents and other administrators as well as parents. We support educators speaking out on issues that matter to them. Hear from Teacher-Authors on the ground in some of these states about what they’re experiencing.
Brooke Brown – Teach Outside the Box from Oklahoma
“Here in Oklahoma, our movement began several weeks ago with a walkout Facebook group that was started by a teacher in Stillwater. The group grew to 60,000 members in four days, united with the frustrations of painfully low teaching salaries, overflowing class sizes, lack of basic instructional resources, and common stories of teachers that are working multiple jobs in order to provide for their families to make ends meet…issues that have plagued Oklahoma teachers and have continued to grow in severity over the past decade. Our walkout began at the capitol on Monday, April 2nd with over 20,000 teachers, students, and parents, with the vast majority of Oklahoma superintendents and boards of education supporting our cause.
Legislators expected the walkout efforts to decrease significantly after the main rally and first day, however, our numbers and community support have continued to grow each day, with day four beginning today. Along with many of my colleagues, I’ve spent the past few days meeting personally with legislators to discuss solutions and reach funding compromises that are best for our children. First and foremost, we are demanding sufficient educational funding for our students with sustainable revenue sources. We are also working to develop a plan over the next two years to continue increasing teacher pay to a competitive level. We experienced our first small victory today when the House of Representatives passed an Amazon tax that is earmarked specifically for education. Tomorrow and beyond, we’re pushing for additional streams of revenue to be added.
The past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions and a huge learning experience for all of us. As teachers so often do, we are doing everything we can to educate ourselves on the issues and where our legislators stand. We are also working diligently to work toward bipartisan solutions for the future of public education in our state.”
The Creative Classroom – Ashlyn Ellsworth from Arizona
“I’m an Arizona teacher who has taught in three states, four districts and alongside many dedicated teachers. With 12 years experience in education, I make less now than I did my first year teaching in another state! My pay in Arizona is pitiful. We are among the lowest paid states in the nation and have not seen significant raises in over 10 years. If I had to support myself, I wouldn’t make it month to month. With added expenses of healthcare, school loans, and monthly bills, I’ve had to look elsewhere for opportunities to bring in extra money to cover monthly costs. This crisis with low teacher pay in our state has led to teachers fleeing to find higher paid jobs in other states, leaving over 2,000 unfilled teaching jobs. That means those students in those classrooms don’t have qualified teachers. We want respect, we want encouragement, we need funding!“
Melissa Mazur from Oklahoma
“It’s extremely encouraging to see how many parents are supportive of the walkout even though it can be a big inconvenience. Many local organizations and businesses are holding ‘camps’ for children to attend if their parents need childcare.”
Brandi Caldwell of My Teacher Friend from Oklahoma
“The Walkout in Oklahoma has been a roller coaster for me, my family, my colleagues, our students, and communities. Emotional highs, lows, fatigue, and general stress and pressure have been apparent. Even with all of the ups and downs, some key moments have stuck with me so far.
My daughters: My children will KNOW for sure that the teachers in our state and community care about education. Their education. My daughter, Dahlia is in 1st grade. She cried when I made her stay home to rest on day three. She feels the importance, energy, and gravity of the situation. It’s powerful. She has walked along with and seen every one of her teachers fighting for her.
Solidarity: My bond with other teachers grows stronger daily. My teacher friends in my district, hometown, across the state, and those I only know through TpT are united in fighting for fully funding education here in Oklahoma. The support we feel from each other and the positivity with which I see my colleagues conducting themselves is awe inspiring.
Strength: Oklahoma’s education system has withstood the deepest cuts in the nation. Our teachers have been without a raise for a decade. My hometown has lost band, cross country, shop, home economics, and many other programs. Students are without chairs and textbooks, desks and copy paper across the state. Our support staff are somewhere between stretched too thin and non-existent. What they are seeing is the educators of Oklahoma standing strong FOR students. That’s powerful. Our teacher voices are loud and clear. We aren’t going to take it anymore. We are tired but inspired in the Sooner State. So much work left to do!”
Marie Cote from The Hands On Teacher in First from Arizona
“I go to work EVERY day ready to serve my students and do the best that I can to help them learn and make them feel loved. The expectations for us as educators are high and the workload seems never ending. I give my students my best, and my own children at home get what’s left of me. We have standards that are changing, testing that needs done, more and more students being pushed into regular ed because there is a shortage of special education teachers, and classrooms filled to the brim.
Teachers here aren’t just upset about our pay though. We aren’t just wanting to be paid what we are worth, we want to be respected. We need to know that all we are doing for our students is appreciated.
Emotions are so high here in Arizona. Teachers and many parents are on board and ready for change. We just hope legislature will listen to us and truly work to find a solution.”