Oklahoma Teachers Leading Charge For Change

Wednesday, March 28th 2018, 9:18 am
By: News On 6

The message teachers are sending to lawmakers is clear: the time has come for change.

Shelia Thompson tries to make a difference every day she walks in the doors at Lee Elementary school in Oklahoma City. 

"We're not walking on on them; we're walking out for them," the second-grade teacher said of her students. "None of us want to be away from our kids for one day. I probably easily hug over a hundred kids a day, every day."

It's that relationship that motivates the 14-year veteran teacher to fight for better funding for schools.
"When you have a relationship with them, they want to try to do their best for you because they know that you care about them," Shelia Thompson said.
She said that is why she is walked out and is leading the charge for change.

"I don't feel like legislators really understand how serious we are," she said.

Thompson and her fellow teachers have taken an active role outside the classroom to get that message to lawmakers. They rallied over spring break for a pay raise, more funding for students and a cap on class sizes.

Educate Oklahoma

Jessica Tilley teaches fifth grade and after only three years into her career, is already disillusioned.

"I had 28 last year; I'm at 33 this year," she said of her classroom. "What's the number going to be next year?

"It's difficult to know that you're undervalued; it's hard to come to work every day when people think you're a babysitter."

But like other teachers - her passion for teaching and her students keep her focused on what's best for them.

"We need more technology in our schools which costs more money which we don't have," she said. "So we're losing that side of it - so we're not developing our kids for career readiness."
And with their demands not being heard - educators are doing what they say they didn't want to do: walk out.

"I think if we're not in the classrooms, they're going to have to take us seriously," said Shelia Thompson, a second-grade teacher in Oklahoma City. "We are prepared to let it take as long as it has to take."