There are so many emotions rolling through my head at the moment. The last 2 weeks has out me on roller-coaster of emotions.
This is my 6th year of teaching, and I can honestly tell you that I never imagined I would be part of a state wide teacher walkout. Never in my wildest dreams. But, whether I wanted to or not school districts were closing, and I was going to step in with both feet and advocate for my students.
April 2nd came and the day dawned cold…so very cold, but still myself and multiple teacher friends got up and boarded a bus to head to OKC to rally at the Capitol. I must admit that I was nervous and excited all in the same breath. I am not one for confrontation…AT ALL…but I want what is best for my students and that includes funding education in Oklahoma.
That day at the capitol we were greeted by sound bites of different representatives telling us to get back in the classroom and “do our job”, by people posting on facebook that we should all be fired, and by representatives telling us “they had done all they could do”.
The next 2 days I was a on a street corner holding a sign raising awareness or the need for sustainable education funding for our public schools in Oklahoma. Then Thursday and Friday I spent at the Capitol attempting to speak to representatives. Some representatives were helpful and others closed their doors…it was disheartening to say the least…to fight for something you believe in so much and to have others not understand is hard.
Then came the weekend…I worked my 2nd job and then decided to join the march on Sunday. For 3 days I watched teachers come together from all across Oklahoma to walk for our kids. I watched teachers lose toenails, I watched them sleep on mats in gyms and libraries, I watched them have giant blisters/multiple blisters treated each night and then get up the next morning to continue walking. But you know what I never heard…I NEVER heard a discussion about our teacher pay. I NEVER heard a discussion about what teachers deserve. Everywhere I looked teachers talked about their struggles in the classroom. They talked about their students. They talked about missing their students. They talked about education funding so their students could have the best possible education. I was inspired and in awe.
Fast forward to today…in a couple of days I will get to see my 23 precious babies again that I haven’t seen in over 14 days. I am equal parts excited and sad. Excited because I missed their smiles and hugs. Excited to continue to teach them. Sad because I have to look them in the eye and feel like I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to for them. Sad because we still have people “representing” us that DO NOT have the education of our children first and foremost in their minds. BUT, this is not over…
It is far from over. In the words of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in regards to the attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” We are not going away. I am not going away. I will continue to email. I will continue to call. I will actively campaign for those that are pro-education. This teacher is not going away….I will continue to do what is in the best interests of both my students and the state of Oklahoma.
So all that to say…I am a bundle of emotions today over what was and was not accomplished at the Capitol. BUT, teachers, families, and community members have been mobilized. A record number of candidates filed to run for office this week. A historic increase on GPT was passed when they said it was impossible. Year 2 and 3 will still need to be funded, and I will do my best to make sure that they are!
Thank you to those that supported me through words and deeds. You will never know the difference it made. I pray God blesses you back exponentially!