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Countdown: 15 Days

March 18, 2018

Brace yourselves, friends. I think we’re in for a rough one.

In 15 days, we may witness history if teachers across the state walk off the job in protest of years of ineptitude at the Oklahoma Capitol. I know no one who wants this to happen. I’ve been in meeting after meeting with leaders in my district and meeting after meeting with leaders from across the state trying to figure out all of our contingency plans.

What about feeding kids?

What about support employees?

What about the testing window?

What about activities and student trips?

What if it lasts 5 days? 10? 20? More?

What about graduation?

Can we still have prom?

That’s a sample of the issues that we have to consider. Just the same, our board – along with many, many other school boards – has passed a resolution supporting teachers. This is their movement. While many of my superintendent friends wanted a different deadline for the looming walkout, nearly all I know were in agreement that we needed to fall in line behind what our teachers demanded.

Explaining how we got here is pretty simple. The last time the Legislature funded teacher raises was in 2008. Per-pupil funding from that time is significantly higher than it is now. Teacher and support salaries are stagnant. Class sizes are high. Textbooks are in terrible shape.

Ratchet textbooks

Courtesy: @bosticteacher

To their credit, every legislator I know understands that all of these problems are real. Most have voted in favor of one or more proposals to help. Also to be fair, many of those who have voted yes on recent revenue bills voted in favor of last year’s budget that the State Supreme Court unanimously voted to be unconstitutional. And many of the same recent education funding supporters opposed SQ 779 in 2016.

My point is that nobody passes a purity test when it comes to the quest to properly fund public education. Some of the people who voted YES on the step up plan have consistently voted for vouchers and tried to get school consolidation bills heard in the House and Senate. If you pay attention long enough, everyone will make you mad eventually.

Nor is the push for a walkout simply about pay. Over the last several weeks, I’ve heard many legislators and candidates for public office say that they’d like to see additional funding tied to reforms. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to pin any of them down on what reforms they’d like to see. I did see one survey on Facebook, sent out by a group I’d rather not name.

POE survey

Nearly every item on the survey was an insult to the professional educators I know across the state. All make nice distractions and ignore the fact that public education faced a mélange of reforms earlier this decade. A-F Report Cards. Retaining 3rd Graders. Adopting and then eliminating Common Core. Adopting new standards – again.

Going back to 2001 at the federal level, we’ve had No Child Left Behind, Achieving Classroom Excellence, tightly-constructed waivers for NCLB, and the Every Student Succeeds Act.

As education advocates, we’ve fought against full-on voucher programs and for allowing parents to participate on committees that decide whether 3rd graders are retained.

The first half of this decade taught us that the Legislature includes people who will never trust educators, people who give us the credit we deserve, and a group in the middle that could lean either way. All three of these groups will always be in the Capitol. The width of each band varies after each election cycle.

During the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions, public education was probably more on the defensive than at any point in the previous 20 years. Since then, more education-friendly legislators have been elected. I try not to give a legislator too much credit for one “good vote.” Or two or three. The opposite is also true. Some of the lawmakers I consider to be strong public school advocates make me want to bang my head against a desk sometimes.

Over the next few weeks, as we’re all closely watching what happens at the Capitol, I’ll dust off this blog and add a few thoughts, highlight some relevant data points, and generally try to make sense of the evolving political landscape. As always, when I’m writing here, I speak for myself. I may use an experience from my district to illustrate a point, but any opinion expressed on this blog is mine, period.

  1. theatricallyspeaking
    March 18, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Of course I hope the walkout doesn’t have to happen. I’m student teaching this semester. In your district My school still hasn’t told us what will happen to us if there is an extended walkout, but I know that unless they fund a significant pay raise for next year, I’ll have to leave the state to find my first job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 18, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      That’s one of the many questions I wish I could answer right now. You know I hope we can find a way to keep you in Mid-Del.


  2. theatricallyspeaking
    March 18, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    And I would love to stay! I specifically asked to intern at this district because I saw all the great things that are happening here. I’ve still subscribed to the job postings, even though I’ve told myself I can’t stay. I’m hopeful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. March 18, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks – as always – for the awesome music video!
    Praying for actual action by the Legislature. … ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jamie
    March 19, 2018 at 12:31 am

    I think all the extra money went into infrastructure. I moved here from CO a year ago to big fancy NEW buildings. Yet my children aren’t getting the supports they need. Very frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jason Perez
      March 19, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Keep in mind that infrastructure funding comes from the local level through bond issues. Base funding for salaries must come from the state.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. March 19, 2018 at 9:32 am

    You’re back!! Been waiting to hear your thoughts on everything!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Missy Berry
    March 19, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    These questions are irrelevant to the current situation. So what you’re saying is that schools aren’t properly funded due to the lack of the above questions/requests/stipulations? Here’s a stipulation. We walk out until you fund education. Proper funding!!! That’s the only question Legislators should be addressing. Stop with the smoke and mirrors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 19, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      Actually, what I’m saying is that those were frequent questions from the survey we sent to our teachers a couple of weeks ago. The teachers in my district are asking us those questions.


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