Teachers are either the unsung heroes of our life’s saga or the motivating villains we can’t wait to prove wrong. I’ve had many of the first but a few of the latter, but I still learned from all of them. The good teachers, the ones who don’t only help you understand what’s written on the marker board, in the textbook, and the quizzes but the realistic logistics of life that parents are too hesitant to explain, will do what they can for you anytime you need them.
Right now, in Oklahoma, thousands are doing just that for their kids, and I couldn’t be more proud of the educational leaders in my home state.
In my eyes, the teachers are the true leaders, the ones on the front who see firsthand what happens when funding is cut or squeezed dry and do what they can to make the ends meet for their kids. They see it first because they’re actually in the ill-supplied classrooms with the unprepared students. It is ridiculous to expect a teacher to be proud to assign broken and worn down textbooks while their students fidget in cracked and splintered chairs. When money dwindles, electives such as music and art programs are the first to be cut, elements that have been proven crucial and essential to a student’s development.
The teachers see this, they say they need more, yet are ignored or brushed off with “well, we don’t see improvement so sorry not sorry.”
They’ve had enough, their students have not been given nearly enough, and people want to roll their eyes and say how greedy a teacher must be to dare to ask for a liveable wage and decent classrooms where learning is not made a more trying task than need be. Oh the audacity! You mean people who are qualified for their career don’t want to have to work part time jobs? Shocking…
Which leads people to their next horribly constructed argument (it’s a poor and dismissive jab that a student of Lincoln-Douglas debate could easily tear apart) :
Teachers are just being greedy for a higher pay.
Listen very carefully: if that was all it was, teachers only wanting more money for themselves, then why bother to stay in the state and weather the consequences of a low paying salary? Many teachers have moved to other states (such as Texas) to make a higher wage, unable to make ends meet in OK. If this were the only reason, it stands to logic that everyone would make this choice.
But they’re not because that’s not the sole reason or the principle of the matter at hand. Their is genuine concern and frustration that has spread everywhere, from the panhandle to the Red River border. Teachers are traveling hours from all over to show up at the legislature house, only for the meeting to vote to adjourn early and leave as teachers crowd the upstairs level. They will be seen and are heard everywhere. They won’t be turned away or hushed.
We all owe at least one teacher in our lives gratitude.
In times like these, I’m always tempted to type “Fly, Mockingjays, Fly!” Every time individuals stand up and make their songs heard, I want to raise three fingers in a salute. Good luck, brave teachers and students everywhere. We all see and hear you!
As of now, I’d say we’re in the Catching Fire stage. All across the country, teachers in other states are on the move. It will be an interesting week, month, perhaps the rest of the year and the future several to come. I ask of all of you, dutiful readers, remember where your spark for learning came from and do the ones who helped fan that into a flame a favor by paying attention in the upcoming elections: who will fight for the teachers who are now fighting not only for themselves but the future generations to come?
Remember to thank a teacher, send one a message or write a letter to them, and remind them that there are people who care, truly, and we will be with them each step of the way. Support for them, their students, is an almighty support for the future. Let’s make it a good one.