Over the past week or two, you may have noticed that teachers have been making headlines. From West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, teachers have gone on strike to protest horrific classroom conditions and dismal salaries.
Oklahoma’s teachers have already been out of the classroom for two weeks now, storming the capital and demanding that changes be made. Government representatives have attempted to meet the demands of the unions by expanding tribal gambling and taxing certain internet sales, but the teachers don’t believe it is enough, and are pressing lawmakers for a suitable tax plan in order to end the strike. Oklahoma currently ranks as number 42 out of 50 on the list for best states for childhood education (according to usnews.com), so it’s no wonder these educators feel compelled to fight for better treatment and better conditions.
As a future educator myself, I feel compelled to weigh in on this issue. Teachers are some of the most important members of society. They foster the next generation and teach them to to go out and make a difference in the world around them. In order for teachers to do this, they need a good, safe environment to work in, and a good salary to meet their living expenses. The teachers who are participating in this strike aren’t getting that.
Oklahoma teachers have faced moldy classroom walls, textbooks with covers completely torn off, leaking ceilings, and broken furniture that goes unreplaced for years, simply because there isn’t enough funding to fix it. Some teachers have even reported that they’re currently working up to six jobs just to make ends meet (according to CNN.com). “Teacher morale gets worse every year,” said Craig Troxell, a full time high school science teacher in Oklahoma who currently is working four different jobs, “I’ve heard of a lot of my (teacher) acquaintances walk away and get a different job. They don’t want to do it anymore.” Oklahoma currently ranks in the bottom three for teacher salary.
When our government puts education on the back burner, as they so often do, they’re telling teachers that they couldn’t care less about them, and that they could couldn’t care less about the future of America’s citizens. Why shouldn’t teachers be paid just as much as doctors, lawyers, and other important members of society? Why have we as a nation decided to devalue those who impact us for the rest of our lives? Many argue that there isn’t enough money to go around, but I see otherwise. Instead of funneling our tax dollars into border walls and big military parades, our government should focus on the things that really matter. Investing time and dollars in our education system is one thing we can do to make America a better place.
I stand with the teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, and everywhere else in America. Keep fighting for a better tomorrow.