With the walkout deadline less than a week away, Oklahoma teachers are hoping lawmakers can come up with a plan to fund their demands.
Carnegie Elementary teacher Heather Taylor says she spends hundreds of dollars of her own money on her classroom, but she wants lawmakers to understand that students also need their funding support.
Every day, Taylor walks into her 4th grade classroom and teaches nearly 60 students math and science. She gathers papers, pens, and books – many of which she bought with her own money.
“It can be frustrating, but we do it because we know it’s good for the kids,” said Taylor.
Taylor says she’s not the only teacher to reach into her pocket. Many of her coworkers do the same.
“I don’t think the students are getting what they should get out of their 4th grade experience,” stated Taylor. “That kind of breaks my heart.”
Carnegie Elementary Principal Robin Emerson says that, because of a money shortage, they don’t have enough teachers.
Many times the Parent Teacher Association steps in to help the school fund teachers for extracurricular activities and field trips.
Emerson says “it’s a luxury to have 3 specials teachers - art, music, and P.E., and we’re only allocated a half for music.”
Though teachers are demanding higher pay, ultimately, they claim, it’s about the students.
“We could go somewhere else, but we choose to stay here,” said Taylor. “If they continue to not fund schools properly or teachers properly, we’re not going to stay here.”
Taylor says she hopes lawmakers will do their part to make a change.
“I just want the legislators to know that we have really good teachers here, but you have pushed us to the limit,” exclaimed Taylor.
Teachers are also encouraging parents and students to call their legislators and tell them to restore funding for education and increase teacher salaries.