Why strike? Why walk out on the kids? These are questions I know people across the U.S. are asking. I am not a teacher. I do not work for the public school system. I am just a parent who sends her six children to public school Monday through Friday, August through May, well I did anyway until our teachers walked out and up to our state capital to demand better funding for public education. Do I believe my kids’ teachers walked out on them? Let me share my humbled opinion and I’ll let you formulate your own answer for that question.
On Monday, April 2, 2018 a bold and historic move was made by Oklahoma teachers to meet at the state capitol building and stand unified alongside each other and many supporters. They were gathered together to demand our state’s education fund be fully restored. Over the past decade, Oklahoma schools have felt the impact of education budget cuts. We have lost teachers to other states. We lack textbooks and the ones we have are severely outdated and falling apart. We do not have supplies and proper necessities to give our children a quality, free and public education. Sadly, some of our school structures are in dire need of repairs and our budget doesn’t allow for those to happen. We have had an influx of students added and a leak that cannot seem to be sealed of monetary funds exiting. Our class sizes are growing and our teachers are dwindling. How much more can we take? How much longer did they expect us to stay silent and complacent? It is because of this that our teachers walk out, not on the kids, but for the kids.
Change comes with pain and it is difficult to welcome change, in fact, it is easier to stay quiet. This change that we the people are working on is hard and believe me it would be easier to just give up and go back to our norm. But, what good would that do? What would that teach our children? We are a week into school closures here in Oklahoma and it is imperative at this point that we continue this fight until it is finished, otherwise, it was all for nothing.
I am so thankful for the diligence our teachers, support staff and school administrations have shown during this time. I am thankful that they are willing to stand up and fight for my children. Teachers are truly the backbone of this country. If you can read, write, do simple mathematics and articulate small thoughts in your head you have a teacher to thank and if you were homeschooled you still have a teacher to thank…your parent. Teachers help to shape our future and they are one of the most unappreciated people in America’s workforce. They are underpaid, overworked and exhausted.
My older boys and I spent a couple days marching alongside our educators, parents and students. The overwhelming amount of joy, hope and pride I felt while there is indescribable. These people have truly taken on a Goliath and they are refusing to back down. The “Davids” among these people are inspiring and I can only hope and pray that my children will one day grow up to be the educated, bold and courageous leaders their teachers are proving to be. What we are witnessing during this protest is a very large group of people from all walks of life coming together and allowing the lines of politics to be blurred so that we can ensure a quality future for our children, ourselves, our state and our nation. I am watching in outrage as our state legislature mocks, disrespects and dismisses our teachers, our parents and sadly our children. They have forgotten the very reason they are where they are today, a quality education and a majority of people that voted them in. I will not allow my children to have that taken from them, I will stand as long as it takes with my children and our teachers.
Teachers, you have my full support. I am here with you and I can not thank you enough for fighting for my children, their future children and all of the children. I will leave you with what I hope will be words of encouragement that will fill your tanks to keep fighting a little longer. You are making history and charting a new course for future educators that will carry the baton in the next leg of this race we call life. Do not lose sight of your why, do not let your hearts get weary and your minds get tired. These children are depending on you and they are so proud of their teachers. You are impacting more than just our kids’ lives, you are impacting ours as well. Watching you fight and seeing your strength to endure until the end fills my heart with love and admiration. You must keep going, even when you feel like you can’t go one step further. It’s at that point that the outcome you are working for is within your reach. Being courageous does not mean you have no fear, it means that you are so full of fear you are willing to walk not knowing the outcome to inspire change for your future. Be courageous because it is who you are. You were fearfully and wonderfully made and you will be the change we desperately need. Keep your faith, stay the course.