Three OK Teachers Share One Voice To Defend Teachers' Rally

Friday, March 28th 2014, 11:34 pm
By: News On 6

School districts and teachers have been taking heat for rallying at the capitol on Monday, rather than holding class. But three generations of Tulsa teachers, believe the rally will ultimately benefit Oklahoma children and the state of education.

They're just three of thousands of teachers expected at Monday's rally for education, but each one offers a unique perspective; representing the Millennial Generation, Generation X and the silent generation.

But 88-year-old Emily Wood, who's still teaching, chooses not to remain silent. She said the state needs a wake up call, because the state of education here is as bad as she's seen it.

When asked if she believed Oklahoma education was bad, Wood said, "Yes I do. That's why I am standing here risking everything to tell you I think it's bad. We need to change it. We need money. We need respect. We need leadership."

Wood, a former Tulsa Teacher of the Year, recalls the last rally she attended at the state capitol in 1989.

"And that brought fantastic results. For a few years after that class sizes went down. Teacher esteem went up," Wood said.

And she hopes the same happens 25 years later.

Booker T. Washington teacher John Waldron is half Wood's age, but shares the same passion for education. Waldron said the rally will send a message to the legislature, and to all Oklahomans, that teachers are willing to fight. For him, the fight is for a lot of things, but smaller class sizes are huge.

"I used to teach 110 students in this classroom. 150 is normal in a day now for me. And that makes a big difference because it cuts down on the personal relationship of the teachers with students," Waldron said.

But he says the rally is about more than just sending a message, it's about lobbying for concrete issues; like House Bill 2642.

"House Bill 2642, which would create a separate education account, and make sure that the money we put into education isn't transferred elsewhere," said Waldron.

Emily Durbin, who will graduate from college in May, is a student teacher.

"We're graduating really soon and we're looking for jobs. And because of the lack of funding for education, we won't be able to get jobs where we want to be," Durbin said.

She said many of her peers have already decided to leave Oklahoma upon graduation, and go where teaching jobs are better-paying with more incentives.

"My appearance at the rally, I want to symbolize new teachers in Oklahoma and the passion that we have. And a lot of us, we do want to stay in Oklahoma, or we want to stay in Tulsa or Oklahoma City that we're from, to serve the community that we were raised in," Durbin said.

Three generations, one voice.

There are some opposed to the rally. They argue that throwing money at education won't solve any problems. There are also many parents upset that their children will lose a day of instruction before testing.