Oklahoma teacher walkout reaches Ada High

The Oklahoman reports OEA's teacher strike plan.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oklahoma education takes the cake for one of the lowest paid administrations, not to mention the lowest funded schools in the country. Oklahoma teachers, such as Shawn Freeman are a little too familiar with these cutbacks, having to purchase various school supplies with their own income as well as endure each school day with what they feel are inadequate teaching materials.

“I don’t want to walk out, I signed a contract,” said Freeman. “I do believe Oklahoma education has a problem and it’s because of the lack of funding. When you look back on what has happened over the last ten years, they’ve cut forty percent of the money for education, that goes for students as well as teacher pay. I have to purchase a lot of my own supplies out of my paycheck. They have to do something, but I don’t know that me walking out will accomplish anything with the legislators.”

However, Oklahoma isn’t the only state that has had to deal with these conditions.

Another one of the lowest funded states when it comes to education is West Virginia, a state also making the rounds in education news. Earlier this year, a state-wide teacher strike took over West Virginia in attempt to persuade their legislature to raise their pay. As reported by the New York Times, “The strike has left more than 250,000 children out of school in the state’s 55 counties.” The strike continued until their legislature agreed to give teachers a five percent pay raise, as long as the bill was approved. The teacher walkout appeared effective and inspired other states to follow suit.

On March, 2018, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) released a statement in favor of a teacher walkout which has sparked walkouts all over the state. Rumors have continued to circulate the district on whether or not Ada City Schools would vote in favor of this strike. However, many teachers such as Deanna Compton, are tired of waiting and are ready for their voices to be heard. Compton plans to march with other teachers at the capitol the day of the walkout and feels this movement is completely necessary to persuade the state legislature to start listening.

“It’s not just teacher pay,” said Compton. “Let’s fund education appropriately as well as other state agencies like mental health and correctional facilities. It’s about making Oklahoma not an okay state but a great state.”

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Many other Ada High teachers such as Shawn Freeman, Chris Eckler, Celena Galbreaith, and Alyssa Rhodes have worked multiple jobs outside of school in order to support their families.  From income to textbooks to proper working technology, many Oklahoma educators feel as though education deserves better.

Freeman, who held a part time job for over two years said,”If I don’t fulfill my contract, then I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, then I can’t pay my bills.”

The Oklahoma legislature has until April 1 to meet the set demands. Starting April 2, Ada High, along with many other schools, will close in support of education and in support of teachers all throughout the state.