Oklahoma Teachers Walk-Out
by Lucia Kezele '18
There is no doubt that teachers are some of the most important people within a child’s life. They not only teach children the basic fundamentals that they need to know to succeed but they also serve as role models for kids throughout the world. They not only spend eight hours a day teaching students but they also spend countless hours of their own time as well as their own money preparing for what their students need. Right now the country is being shaken by arguments about raising teacher’s salary. The walk-outs started in West Virginia and have since traveled to Oklahoma where the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) presented their state legislature with a list of demands for what they want to see happen within their state in regards to fair teaching wages. The current starting salary for teachers in Oklahoma is set at $31,600 (set by legislators) a year yet the salary can vary from district to district.
On March 9, 2018 the OEA approached their Oklahoma legislature with demands from the teachers. The legislature was given three weeks to approve these demands or else teachers across Oklahoma were threatening to walk out of their schools. These demands totaled to about $800 million in additional funding. This funding would not just apply to teacher’s salary but also to staff’s (custodians, secretaries, etc) salary as well as additional classroom funding. According to newsok.com, the demands request a $10,000 salary increase for teachers and a $5,000 increase for staff. The OEA stated that this raise did not have to happen within one year but that the legislature could stretch the raise over three years as long as the teachers received a raise of $6,000 in the next fiscal year. Senator Mike Schulz of Oklahoma said that a $10,000 pay raise would be tough but manageable however, he then went on to say that a $5,000 raise would be much more obtainable thus cutting the teacher’s demands in half. The rest of the demands include raises in health care funding as well as funding for public schools.
This past Monday, April 2, 2018, at least 20,000 people swarmed the Capitol to protest teacher salaries. Tuesday, protesters entered the Capitol, reaching number in the 100s, to “chant” while outside of the Capitol teachers booed the lawmakers as they adjourned from their meetings. Teachers have received massive backlash from their protesting, some people even going as far as to say that these teachers do not care about their students. I approached the Assistant-Principal of Union High School in Tulsa, OK to see what she had to say about why teachers and staff are walking out. Mila Gutierrez-Trujillo, Assistant-Principal at Union High School had this to say; “Class sizes are too big, students are needing more attention. If it means getting disciplined and getting the attention in the office.” These teachers are now receiving backlash from their own legislators. State Representative Kevin McDugle even went as fair to start a Facebook live video in which he berated the actions of these teachers and said that he “is not voting for another stinking measure when they are acting the way that they are acting.” He went on to delete the video and issue a statement saying that he simply did not agree with actions that were taken at the Capitol (actions he presumed to have come from teachers) and claimed that multiple legislators have received death threats.
Teachers have tried for years to get the legislature to increase their salaries. However, the House could not come to a decision. Democrats endorsed tax and budget cuts while republicans endorsed tax raises. The legislature requires a ¾ majority for a bill to pass and they just haven’t been able to come to a consensus on this issue. This year is different; teachers have all banded together and stuck with what they threatened. If the demands presented by the OEA were not met then there was a planned walk out for March 28th, and another for April 2nd if nothing was done. Last week teachers did, however, receive a raise that averaged to $6,100.
On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the teachers were on their third day of striking. However, not all teachers were still in the process of “walking out.” Some districts ordered their teachers to return to schools and begin teaching. The schools still participating in the walkout lie within the ten largest school districts in Oklahoma. These districts include the two largest cities in Oklahoma: Oklahoma City (pop. 579, 999) and Tulsa (pop. 391, 906). Teachers have said that they plan to continue their walk-out until something is changed while some teachers have decided to walk from their hometowns to the capitol, they should arrive there by Tuesday, April 10, 2018.
Nonprofits Depend on Arizona Give Day
Meche' Williams '19
The Arizona Gives Day Organization is formed by Arizona nonprofits and Arizona grantmakers that started in 2013 and has raised more than $10.1 million for nonprofits state wide. In Arizona the first Tuesday during the month of april has been important to small nonprofit organizations because they’re getting support and money from “Arizona Gives Day.” Jennifer Purcell the director of community engagement for the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits said, “With Arizona Gives Day, we are really trying to build a spirit of philanthropy in the state. We have lots of people who live here part-time, and because of that, they often give in their home states. We need those people, along with those living here year-round, to understand that their dollars are helping to make Arizona’s community as strong as it can be.” Over 1,000 nonprofits participate in Arizona Gives Day hope to have a record breaking amount in 24-hours since the donation opened. The whole idea behind Arizona Gives Day is “empowering nonprofits”, “paying it forward”, and “giving flexibility.” So far there are 1,053 different nonprofits you can donate to, of a wide range “representing diverse interests”: animals, art, children, community development, education, the environment, human services, seniors and more. The sanctuary www.hoofsnhornsfarm.org has been a non profit since 2013: majority of the animals they take in have special medical needs and specialized care. The Founder and CEO Shelby Brawley said, “Lots of the animals that come here have no other options: We are the last stop for them. Many rescue organizations can recoup fees by rehabbing animals and finding them homes, but we don’t have that option. We are somewhere between a hospital, hospice and retirement home. Often you feel like you are competing with so many big nonprofits, but a rescue partner said that Arizona Gives Day has really helped them and other small nonprofits, so we are thrilled to be able to participate and hopefully get our name out there.” If you’re interested to see the total amount of donations check out https://www.azgives.org/ and it will give you the amount and details of the nonprofits they help.