How You Can Support the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

  *** DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that the opinions in this piece do not reflect the official stance and views of Her Campus, Her Campus Oklahoma nor The University of Oklahoma.*** 

 

As you may already know, Oklahoma teachers have not received a pay raise in over a decade, our state leads the country in cuts to education, and on April 2, 2018 they began a walkout. As college students in Oklahoma, many of us have already survived Oklahoma public schools k-12 programs, many of us have younger siblings still in OK public schools, and many of us want to support our past educators, but don’t know how.

I have been struggling with how to help since the walkout was announced, but thanks to active students like Heather Turner (@staccatosounds) on twitter and other social media platforms, I now know there are several ways for us to get involved.

Photo by Alexa Mazzarello on Unsplash

The first way to help is to contact your legislators, build a report, get them to talk to you. This is their job; they are paid by our tax dollars to listen to their constituents (us) and to vote on and draft legislation on our behalf. Call, email, fax, write letters, show up at their offices at the State Capitol; anything to get in contact. Specifically, outline your wish for them to support a $10k raise for teachers and a $5k raise for support staff over the next 3 years, via sustainable revenue measures. If you don’t know your local legislators or their contact information, you can find them here.

The second is to support food banks, backpack programs, and other organizations that will feed and take care of children who will be out of school during the walkout. As of the 2015-2016 school year 366,677 Oklahoma students were on free and reduced lunch programs, which is roughly 62% of public school students. For a lot of students the meals they receive at school are the only ones they can count on regularly. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma needs extra volunteers and donations during the walkout, they are preparing meals and backpacks for children across the state to be able to eat during the walkout. These meal programs will support Oklahoma’s children during the walkout.

Another option is to support day camps for children to attend during the walkout in your community. Organizations across the state are stepping up to the plate to take on childcare during school hours for the duration of the walkout. The Oklahoma City Zoo is hosting camps for children that will be out of school for $45 a day, Science Museum Oklahoma is hosting camps for $50 a day. 9 of the 11 Recreation Centers in Oklahoma City will be open for extended hours (7:30am-8pm) during the teacher walkout, they are working with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to ensure every child in attendance will be fed for free. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma City will be open from 8am-6pm during the strike and will be open to the public, they will take as many children as space permits at each location. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma City needs volunteers in the event of a walkout, apply to be one here. In Norman, Community After School Program is teaming up with the YMCA and the Center For Children and Families, Inc. of Norman, to provide day camp and meals for elementary school children in Norman. They need volunteers to work with the kids during the week, apply to volunteer here. As the strike continues they will need more qualified volunteers and helpers to work with the kids of Norman.

Support our teachers by showing up to the Oklahoma State Capitol, join their demonstration; follow their updates closely, stay educated on what they’re facing. You can find more information and updates on the walkout at the demonstration Facebook page, by joining the Facebook group, or by following the largest teacher union in the state, Oklahoma Education Association, on Facebook and Twitter (@okea) and the OK Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister, on Facebook and Twitter (@joy4ok).

As always, the best way to make sweeping change and to be heard, is to get out and vote. It ensures situations like Oklahoma teachers not getting a pay raise in over a decade, don’t happen again. Information on how to register to vote in Oklahoma can be found here.

As the walkout continues, we should be gearing up to help our teachers and Oklahoma students. The time for change is now, our teachers deserve better, our students deserve better, and we need to support them.

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