It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! I love this tradition because it gets us talking about our amazing teachers and reminds us to celebrate the positive aspects of our education system—and there are many! For most of us in HD 46, that means celebrating public education. We all have stories about the teachers who have shaped our lives and the lives of our children. Honoring teachers in this way is so important, but honestly, they deserve more.
Appreciation means adequately funding schools so teachers are not spending their own money on supplies. It means properly staffing schools, so they’re not teaching to overcrowded classes or staying after hours to do unpaid janitorial work. Oklahoma has repeatedly made national news for cutting teachers and services to make up a revenue shortfall, due largely to the massive tax breaks given to oil companies.
Appreciation means paying teachers enough to pay their bills without working multiple jobs. While other professions have seen compensation growth, teachers’ salaries have stagnated for four decades. In Oklahoma, teacher pay has not even kept pace with the cost of living. We need to elevate the teaching profession to the financially viable and prestigious one it deserves to be.
Finally, true appreciation means listening to teachers – recognizing that education policy should be shaped by those who practice it professionally. We need teachers to have a place at the table, and they deserve to be there. So let’s continue to share the stories of our most influential teachers (use #electateacher and share your story!), but in addition to talking about them, let’s show our appreciation by actually listening to them. That’s why we need a teacher at the capitol. We need an independent voice at the legislative level who can tell these stories firsthand.
Let’s protect public education by electing a teacher to the legislature! Volunteer your time, money, or both. And, of course, Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all my fellow teachers—your work is truly appreciated.