Tulsa Teacher Working 2 Jobs Says She Wants Paid Like A Professional
TULSA, Oklahoma - We are less than two weeks away from the deadline the Oklahoma Education Association gave lawmakers to come up with a plan for a teacher pay raise.
Many teachers say they can’t afford to make ends meet on their current salary. Some even work two jobs.
Sharla Clark is an English teacher at East Central High School. She says she has been waiting tables for as long as she’s been teaching and, like many other teachers, she’s still not able to make ends meet.
"I have written out quizzes on guest checks before,” said Clark. “Kids have asked me, ‘what is that in your hand? Is that like from a restaurant?’"
Clark has been teaching in Oklahoma for 15 years and waiting tables at Goldie’s for almost as long.
"I can’t tell you how many times I leave school and go directly to Goldie’s," stated Clark.
She is one of hundreds of Oklahoma teachers who have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
Clark says, "Sometimes I hate it when I clock in and I’m making $2.13 an hour just because the State of Oklahoma doesn’t pay well."
Though Clark says she doesn't teach for the paycheck, she wants to be compensated like a professional.
"My first take home paycheck when I started working in Tulsa was $1,636 a month. Now, it’s only $500 more," said Clark.
Clark just hopes that something can be done to change the perception of education in Oklahoma.
"Almost always, when I tell people I’m a teacher in Oklahoma…they automatically feel sympathy for me," said Clark.
And, she says, it’s difficult to entice Oklahoma students, and even her own kids, to get an education because they've seen the system decline right in front of their eyes.
Clark says "it’s really hard to push them to get an education when my education is not producing the amount of money…enough to support my family."
A group of Tulsa teachers, parents, and students went to the Capitol on Tuesday to continue talking to lawmakers. They are still encouraging people to call their local legislators to push for something to be done so they don’t have to walk out on April 2nd.