Tulsa Teachers Rally For Pay Raise
TULSA, Oklahoma - Two busloads of teachers arrived back in Tulsa Monday night around 5:30 p.m. Many of them say they were hopeful on the way up, but it was a much different story on the way back.
“Nobody goes into teaching to get rich, but we certainly didn’t go into it to get poor,” said Edison High School Teacher Brogan Spears.
Spears is a former Edison graduate who came back to teach English at her alma mater, and though she's had opportunities to move, she says she can't bear to leave her students.
“They need good teachers here, and we want to stay; we want the state to help us stay here,” said Spears.
Spears rallied at the capitol Monday with hundreds of other teachers, parents, students and administrators from across the state who are hoping for change.
“We are in such a terrible, terrible situation,” said TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist. “From my perspective as superintendent, there is true desperation. We have to give our teachers a raise in Oklahoma.”
Many teachers say this raise is needed because they are struggling to make ends meet.
“At the end of the day, we all have to pay our bills,” said Whitman Elementary Third Grade Teacher Deven McMahan. “We all have things we need to do, and it just keeps getting tougher to be able to do something that I love to do.”
McMahan says she's watched several teachers leave the district and wants the state to give them a reason to stay.
“I feel like it’s important for them to see me, if not, I am just another whining person on Facebook,” said McMahan. “But, if they see me, they can see my emotion; they can see I’m frustrated.”
Ultimately, it's about the students who are sitting in the seats.
“Kids need to learn, they want to learn and they need people who want to be there,” said Spears.
Minimum pay for an entry level Teacher in Oklahoma is $31,600. With the $5,000, it would be a 16 percent increase.
The raise would add about $2.50 an hour. Teachers say it's not a perfect plan but it's a start.