One

November 9, 2016

Mid-Del Family and Friends:

Over the last 24 hours, I have heard a wide range of people discuss what Tuesday night’s results mean to them. Specifically, I’ve heard several theories of how to interpret the overwhelming vote of Oklahomans against State Question 779 – the penny sales tax initiative.

It reminds me of the novelty paintings you used to see everywhere – the ones where you’re supposed to blur your eyes until an image comes into focus. Usually it’s a unicorn or a waterfall or a ninja or something. Well, that’s what people tell me. I never can see it.

blurry unicorn.jpg

Almost every theory I’ve heard includes some version of the idea that the people of this state and that our Legislature want to help us. They want to give teachers raises. They want to more fully fund public schools, but not this way. In some versions, the portion of the tax that would fund higher education gets people riled up. Sometimes, the criticism centers on school districts themselves. More often, I hear people frustrated that we’re letting our elected officials off the hook.

I did have a vision before the election results started coming in. It included using whatever proceeds we received from the penny sales tax to fund teacher raises beyond the minimum of $5,000, adding back positions that we’ve cut, and increasing support salaries. Now that’s all gone blurry, and when I try to focus on what to think of Tuesday night, I see nothing with clarity.

I started writing this as a pep talk. I really meant to send you an encouraging message. I hoped to tell you with clarity what this all means. Right now, I just don’t see it. Before the election, I guess I was seeing what I wanted to see in the blur of our political landscape. I was hopeful.

No, I never thought hard-coding a tax increase into the state constitution was the best solution. It’s just the only one that had come to the table. It was all we had. Now I hear renewed support for teacher raises from policy makers across the state. I can’t tell you to look at the picture, though, and see something that I don’t see myself. Maybe it’s there. I just don’t know. If it is, we’ll know within the next six months. If it’s not, well, we’ll know that too.

What I do know is that the day after the election, we had school. We picked up students at the bus stops and got them home. We taught them. We fed them. We cared for their social and emotional needs. Maybe that’s not the image our Legislature and voters see when they look at us. It’s what I see, though.

The same state that voted against the penny sales tax wants to remind us that they appreciate teachers. On some level, I believe them. Maybe that just means I’m looking at the picture, trying to see the unicorn, and listening to the voice over my shoulder insisting that it’s there.

Or maybe I’m overthinking this. I do that sometimes. Maybe there is no state consensus. There’s you, and there’s me, and there’s the people around us. If you teach my child, and I believe you care about my child, then I value you. I appreciate you. If you teach in my building and you help carry me through tough times, then I value you. I appreciate you.

We have over 14,000 students in this district who need us. If you’re disappointed right now, please just remember that it’s not at them. And if you can’t grasp the 14,000, then look at the next student you see. That one student needs at least one of us to make a difference in his/her life. You may be what keeps one student coming back to us just one more day.

I’ll keep fighting for them. I’ll keep fighting for you. Maybe you can’t see the big picture any more clearly than I can, but I hope you can see that.

Those of you who frequently read my blogs know that I often add a song at the end to wrap up my thoughts. For tonight, I thought I’d combine two of my musical loves: U2 and Johnny Cash. We started the school year singing “Sweet Caroline,” and it was #sogood. Tonight, I’ll leave you with “One.”

 

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  1. Charles Anderson
    November 9, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    How do I know the password to look at the blog that was emailed to me?

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  2. Laura Ezell
    November 10, 2016 at 5:37 am

    How does one get this password?

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  3. Jim Shelton
    November 10, 2016 at 7:32 am

    How do I obtain the password? Thanks, Jim Shelton

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  4. Jill McCormick
    November 10, 2016 at 8:03 am

    How do I get a password for this post?

    On Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 10:12 PM, okeducationtruths wrote:

    >

    Like

  5. Anon
    November 10, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I think the ONLY thing that would get the legislators’ and voters’ attention at this point, whether “legal” or not, would be to have a mass, state-wide teacher walkout and FORCE the Governor to CALL A FLIPPIN’ SPECIAL SESSION AND TELL THE LEGISLATORS SHE WILL RECALL THEM EVERY TIME THEY END SESSION WITHOUT A RAISE FOR TEACHERS — it is INEXCUSABLE that Oklahoma is now the lowest paid teacher state — even below Mississippi — that is truly INEXCUSABLE!!!!

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  6. Barbara Bumgardner
    November 10, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I am a retired teacher. I appreciate your post and I wish I could be as accepting and understanding as you are. The hidden picture I see coming into focus is that there is a large element of people in this very conservative state that simply doesn’t care what happens to public education. In fact, some of them are hoping for its demise. They would be thrilled to have the role of education transfer to the private ( religious) sector. More homeschooling would be in order as well. They think public schools are a hotbed of liberal ideas such as modern science and history and civics. I have been learning these sad facts for years. I loved teaching, but not so much in Oklahoma.

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  7. November 10, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I would like to know how the “education friendly” candidates fared statewide in the election this week. I voted for the candidates I considered this way for state Senate and House seats in my area (Broken Arrow), but neither won. Both seats were retained by incumbents, which is almost always–maddeningly–the case. So like you, I hear the talk, but I don’t see the follow-through, either through legislative action or ballot casting. It’s disheartening.

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