Teachers Rebel For School Funds


Sue Agrocki / TIME

Christine Nguyen, Staff Writer

   Inspired by the nine-day strike in West Virginia, which later led to a five percent pay raise, teachers in Oklahoma are speaking out about receiving raises from the state for their salaries, school infrastructure, and support staff.

  On Monday, April 2, teachers protested in front of the Oklahoma capitol for more education funding after Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation for a fifteen to eighteen percent raise the week before. However, many have said that the tax hikes placed on cigarettes, fuel and oil to fund the salary increase are not enough. Adrien Gates, an elementary school teacher from Norman, said, “They need to fund our schools better, and until that happens, we’re going to walk out. We need to take this all the way. Otherwise we’re settling.”

  Kendra Abel, an elementary school teacher in Oklahoma City, teaches approximately five hundred and fifty students. According to The New Yorker, she “does things like soaking dried-out markers in water to make watercolors, or melting down broken crayon bits at the end of the year to make new ones.” Abel has spent a considerable amount of money out of her own pocket because the school barely gives her enough money to buy her children art supplies. Madeline Brown (9) said, “I would love to see teachers getting paid more. They work hard to give the students an education and the students need an education because they are the future. We depend on the students today and it comes from the education the teachers provide us.”

  Mrs. Machado, a Spanish teacher at West, said, “A change in our education system that I would like to see is people supporting and appreciating teachers more. Unless you are a teacher, I don’t think the general public understands all the time, work and dedication it goes into being an effective teacher.”

  On Wednesday, April 4, more than a hundred educators, parents, and supporters started marching the 110 miles from Tulsa to the state capitol. According to the National Education Association, “Oklahoma is currently 47th in the nation for public school revenue per student which is nearly $3,000 below the national average, while its average teacher salary of $45,276 ranks 49th.”

  Numerous schools across Oklahoma were closed for the walkout. Multiple services, such as churches, faith organizations, and charitable agencies have opened up during this time to deliver free day-care services. Jasmin Tafolla (9) said, “I am glad that the Oklahoma communities are supporting one another during this time. During protests and rebellions, we should all be there for each other.”

  Because of the cancelled classes, Governor Fallin has encouraged teachers to return to their classrooms. She stated, “It’s important to get back in the classroom and to teach our children.”

  This protest in a Republican-controlled state has motivated teachers in other states, such as Arizona and Kentucky to voice their opinions on school funding. March movements are still being carried out as thousands of teachers work together to further improve our national education system.