OKLAHOMA TEACHER WALKOUT

Oklahoma City, OK—APRIl 13, 2018

 "I coach and teach, and I currently have to work three jobs just to make ends meet, but I promise you I will not leave the kids. Teachers teach everybody. So what are you saying? That we’re not going to have any more lawyers? We’re not going to have any more doctors? I mean, we could go on and on." —Gregory Rideau, Special ed teacher, football coach and track coach at Star Spencer

"I coach and teach, and I currently have to work three jobs just to make ends meet, but I promise you I will not leave the kids. Teachers teach everybody. So what are you saying? That we’re not going to have any more lawyers? We’re not going to have any more doctors? I mean, we could go on and on."
—Gregory Rideau, Special ed teacher, football coach and track coach at Star Spencer

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.—On Monday, April 2, thousands of teachers, students, parents, support staff and concerned citizens gathered at the Oklahoma State Capitol to demand increased funding for schools and better wages for educators. School districts were closed across the state. The Oklahoma Education Association, who called for the walkout, estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 people gathered at the Capitol for the first day of demonstrations at the Capitol.

They continued to show up in droves each day, in cold, heat and rain, persistently requesting action from legislators.

Finally, on April 12, after 9 days of protesting at the Capitol, the Oklahoma Education Association declared an end to the walkout, instructing teachers to return to their classrooms and focus their energy on supporting pro-education candidates in the fall elections.

Though some legislative action was taken during the 9-day period, educators were unable to secure all of their initial demands. The bulk of extra education spending came from the legislation that passed directly before the walkout began, legislation that gave teachers a pay increase of about $6000 and members of the schools' support staff a raise of $1250. 

Many teachers felt that the walkout was ended prematurely and should have continued until additional funding had been won. 

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest, however, said the event was a victory for teachers.

"We have created a movement, and there's no stopping us now," Priest told CNN. "This fight is not over just because the school bell rings once more and our members walk back into schools."

 
 
 “Not Being able to save money, like as a human being, is unfortunate. I’m fortunate enough to not have student loans. If I had student loans or a child or a car payment, I wouldn’t be able to survive on my current salary.” —Conner McElveen, Oklahoma history, geography and financial literacy teacher at Capitol Hill High School

“Not Being able to save money, like as a human being, is unfortunate. I’m fortunate enough to not have student loans. If I had student loans or a child or a car payment, I wouldn’t be able to survive on my current salary.”
—Conner McElveen, Oklahoma history, geography and financial literacy teacher at Capitol Hill High School

   “I’ve had probably four teachers leave within the two years I’ve been in high school. I just think it would be better to have more steady teachers in high schools than teachers who stay for half a semester and then have a sub for the rest of the year.” — Jack Blayloch, student at Norman North High School

“I’ve had probably four teachers leave within the two years I’ve been in high school. I just think it would be better to have more steady teachers in high schools than teachers who stay for half a semester and then have a sub for the rest of the year.”
— Jack Blayloch, student at Norman North High School

 
 
 Teachers arrive on buses to join picket lines and speak to their legislators.

Teachers arrive on buses to join picket lines and speak to their legislators.

 
 
 "It’s put up or shut up time. We either fund the future and pay for education now, or we go ahead and build the three prisons that the legislature is talking about, which is hogwash. I’ve taught in schools in our district where I bought a zipper repair kit and a hot glue gun and surplus mittens and socks, so I could repair shoes and zippers for the poorer schools in our district. The children are our future. It’s reality. This is the best job I’ve ever had, and it’s a worthwhile job when you see the look on a kid’s face when they finally ‘get it’ about something. It’s a great job because it gives them the coping skills to get up out of poverty. The poorer schools I work for are usually single-parent families, and the only way out is for kids to get a decent education. And if we don’t fund education in our state, that will never happen for them. We either fund education or we become prepared to fund more social services and build more prisons." —Lyda Major-Sweet, Long-term substitute in Putnam City Schools for over 18 years

"It’s put up or shut up time. We either fund the future and pay for education now, or we go ahead and build the three prisons that the legislature is talking about, which is hogwash.
I’ve taught in schools in our district where I bought a zipper repair kit and a hot glue gun and surplus mittens and socks, so I could repair shoes and zippers for the poorer schools in our district. The children are our future. It’s reality. This is the best job I’ve ever had, and it’s a worthwhile job when you see the look on a kid’s face when they finally ‘get it’ about something. It’s a great job because it gives them the coping skills to get up out of poverty. The poorer schools I work for are usually single-parent families, and the only way out is for kids to get a decent education. And if we don’t fund education in our state, that will never happen for them. We either fund education or we become prepared to fund more social services and build more prisons."
—Lyda Major-Sweet, Long-term substitute in Putnam City Schools for over 18 years

 "I’m out here today to try to secure the funding we need to teach the kids of Oklahoma. I’ve got classes with nearly 50 kids in them. I don’t have nearly enough textbooks for the kids that need them. I teach band. I’ve got kids who have to play on instruments we’ve repaired with plastic bags and duct tape so the kid can have an instrument that works. I’ve got to buy music for my band out of my own pocket. It’s like $100 for a piece of music and I’ve got to pay. I’ve got light that don’t work in my classroom. I’ve got chairs that don’t work in my classroom. All those things would be nice to have fixed, but you can’t do it without money. Despite the weather, it’s just been great. Everyone still seems to be so positive and so enthusiastic and really feeling like we are getting somewhere, like we are moving forward, even if it’s really a slow process. We’re having some sort of positive effect here." —Heath Miller, band teacher at Tulsa Memorial High School

"I’m out here today to try to secure the funding we need to teach the kids of Oklahoma. I’ve got classes with nearly 50 kids in them. I don’t have nearly enough textbooks for the kids that need them. I teach band. I’ve got kids who have to play on instruments we’ve repaired with plastic bags and duct tape so the kid can have an instrument that works. I’ve got to buy music for my band out of my own pocket. It’s like $100 for a piece of music and I’ve got to pay. I’ve got light that don’t work in my classroom. I’ve got chairs that don’t work in my classroom. All those things would be nice to have fixed, but you can’t do it without money.
Despite the weather, it’s just been great. Everyone still seems to be so positive and so enthusiastic and really feeling like we are getting somewhere, like we are moving forward, even if it’s really a slow process. We’re having some sort of positive effect here."
—Heath Miller, band teacher at Tulsa Memorial High School

 
 
 The crowd belts the chorus of Twisted Sisters' "We're Not Gonna Take It" during The Walkout Band's performance.

The crowd belts the chorus of Twisted Sisters' "We're Not Gonna Take It" during The Walkout Band's performance.

 
 
 "The biggest thing I see is that, since 2008, our departmental budget has been cut to about a third of what it was, but we’re still expected to do all the labs, to properly prepare the students, but there’s just not the equipment and the consumables to be able to do that. It makes it really difficult to do our jobs. We cut labs, we change labs so we’re using cheaper materials. I pay for a lot of it, I’ll be honest. If there’s a lab I want to do, I go buy the stuff to do it. There are a lot of labs that we don’t do anymore because we simply don’t have the funds for the materials or because the piece of equipment we used to use broke and we can’t replace it. I’ve had four of my own kids come through my high school, and I see a difference between the education the first one got and what he had access to and what my last one is getting, simply because it’s not available." —Stephen Stark, Biology teacher and head of the science department at Putnam City High School

"The biggest thing I see is that, since 2008, our departmental budget has been cut to about a third of what it was, but we’re still expected to do all the labs, to properly prepare the students, but there’s just not the equipment and the consumables to be able to do that. It makes it really difficult to do our jobs. We cut labs, we change labs so we’re using cheaper materials. I pay for a lot of it, I’ll be honest. If there’s a lab I want to do, I go buy the stuff to do it. There are a lot of labs that we don’t do anymore because we simply don’t have the funds for the materials or because the piece of equipment we used to use broke and we can’t replace it.
I’ve had four of my own kids come through my high school, and I see a difference between the education the first one got and what he had access to and what my last one is getting, simply because it’s not available."
—Stephen Stark, Biology teacher and head of the science department at Putnam City High School

 "I think it’s important to bring my kids out here, so they can see what we’re doing, that this affects their future. I think it’s our duty to be here, and to be out here for those who can’t be here, holding our signs and saying what we’re saying. So I think it’s a good example."  —Moriah Guild, parent of two John Rex Charter Elementary students

"I think it’s important to bring my kids out here, so they can see what we’re doing, that this affects their future. I think it’s our duty to be here, and to be out here for those who can’t be here, holding our signs and saying what we’re saying. So I think it’s a good example."

—Moriah Guild, parent of two John Rex Charter Elementary students

 
 
 Demonstrators march around the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Demonstrators march around the Oklahoma State Capitol.

 
 
   "I’ve been driving the same car since I was 16. It’s a 1999. There’s no way I could afford a car payment if I wanted to." —Chloe Prochaska, English teacher at Mustang High School

"I’ve been driving the same car since I was 16. It’s a 1999. There’s no way I could afford a car payment if I wanted to."
—Chloe Prochaska, English teacher at Mustang High School

 "I’ve worked in the summer about two or three times. My wife and I both teach. But we kind of made enough money that I didn’t have to work a second job. A single teacher raising children, though, there’s no way their salaries are adequate to take care of things. So that’s why they’ve got to work two or three jobs to take care of things.  I have a son. He’s 23 years old and he’ll be a teacher in one more year, so I want him to go into something where he can make a decent living. So that’s what I’m just hoping for."  —Robert Poolaw Jr., self-contained special ed education teacher at Thelma R. Parks Elementary School

"I’ve worked in the summer about two or three times. My wife and I both teach. But we kind of made enough money that I didn’t have to work a second job. A single teacher raising children, though, there’s no way their salaries are adequate to take care of things. So that’s why they’ve got to work two or three jobs to take care of things.
I have a son. He’s 23 years old and he’ll be a teacher in one more year, so I want him to go into something where he can make a decent living. So that’s what I’m just hoping for."

—Robert Poolaw Jr., self-contained special ed education teacher at Thelma R. Parks Elementary School

 
 
 “Every year, I’ve seen teachers-of-the-year and really impressive teachers and support staff leave because they don’t feel like they’re treated like they should be, so I’m out here to support them. And it’s for the kids too. It’s not just about the pay raise. It’s about money for the schools.” —Tanner Bryan, Biology teacher at Stillwater High School

“Every year, I’ve seen teachers-of-the-year and really impressive teachers and support staff leave because they don’t feel like they’re treated like they should be, so I’m out here to support them. And it’s for the kids too. It’s not just about the pay raise. It’s about money for the schools.”
—Tanner Bryan, Biology teacher at Stillwater High School

 
 
 Megan Ross: "What have you been doing while school has been out?" Andrew Simmons, student in the Mid-Del School District: "Relaxin’." MR: "What’s your favorite subject in school?" AS: "I’d have to say reading." MR: "Nice. What’s your favorite book?" AS: "I like Black Beauty. It’s a good book." MR: "Why do you think school is important?" AS: "I don’t know, it’s just important. You’ve gotta learn." MR: "Why did you choose to put that on your sign?" AS: "So technically, I’m thinking the meaning of hope is God. I just want to make them understand that there’s better things in life that need to be accomplished."

Megan Ross: "What have you been doing while school has been out?"
Andrew Simmons, student in the Mid-Del School District: "Relaxin’."
MR: "What’s your favorite subject in school?"
AS: "I’d have to say reading."
MR: "Nice. What’s your favorite book?"
AS: "I like Black Beauty. It’s a good book."
MR: "Why do you think school is important?"
AS: "I don’t know, it’s just important. You’ve gotta learn."
MR: "Why did you choose to put that on your sign?"
AS: "So technically, I’m thinking the meaning of hope is God. I just want to make them understand that there’s better things in life that need to be accomplished."

   "It’s sad that we have to be here at this time to do what should have been taken care of years ago. It’s a shame that teachers have to leave the classroom to beg for funding. Education has been at the bottom since I started teaching in the 70’s, and here we are. 50th still. When the state realizes that if you put money into education, you’re going to have functioning adults who are going to be contributing members of society, who are going to raise good children and teach those children the same values they have: that it’s important to have a learning life, that you are not just learning in a school setting, that you are a student of life and you are learning forever. You’re improving your mind. You’re cultured. You appreciate the arts. You appreciate knowledge. You are forever are trying to look for things that are going to make things better for everybody. Unfortunately, our state doesn’t get it. Special interests take precedence over children, and it’s wrong. And we suffer the results of that. Oklahoma is high in abusive relationships and divorce rates. A lot of the things that have a negative impact on our society in this state are a result of things that education could fix.  I receive no funding for my program at all. I don’t receive a penny. I don’t have instructional money. I don’t have money for my classroom. A lot of the things that I need come out of my pocket. So I’m earning a smaller income than people in other states, and I am supporting my own program through the funds that I earn. So it’s wrong. Our kids deserve better. We have wonderful kids who are dedicated, who are responsible. And these kids are not being given the tools that they need to be the most successful. And I’ll be out here until this is over. Until there is funding for education. It’s way past time for Oklahoma to step up and put our kids first." —Beverly Gassmann, Teacher at Carl Albert High School

"It’s sad that we have to be here at this time to do what should have been taken care of years ago. It’s a shame that teachers have to leave the classroom to beg for funding. Education has been at the bottom since I started teaching in the 70’s, and here we are. 50th still. When the state realizes that if you put money into education, you’re going to have functioning adults who are going to be contributing members of society, who are going to raise good children and teach those children the same values they have: that it’s important to have a learning life, that you are not just learning in a school setting, that you are a student of life and you are learning forever. You’re improving your mind. You’re cultured. You appreciate the arts. You appreciate knowledge. You are forever are trying to look for things that are going to make things better for everybody. Unfortunately, our state doesn’t get it. Special interests take precedence over children, and it’s wrong. And we suffer the results of that. Oklahoma is high in abusive relationships and divorce rates. A lot of the things that have a negative impact on our society in this state are a result of things that education could fix.
I receive no funding for my program at all. I don’t receive a penny. I don’t have instructional money. I don’t have money for my classroom. A lot of the things that I need come out of my pocket. So I’m earning a smaller income than people in other states, and I am supporting my own program through the funds that I earn. So it’s wrong. Our kids deserve better. We have wonderful kids who are dedicated, who are responsible. And these kids are not being given the tools that they need to be the most successful. And I’ll be out here until this is over. Until there is funding for education. It’s way past time for Oklahoma to step up and put our kids first."
—Beverly Gassmann, Teacher at Carl Albert High School

 
 A group of teachers from Owasso County sit with their signs on the lawn of the Capitol building.

A group of teachers from Owasso County sit with their signs on the lawn of the Capitol building.

 
 
 Kelly Dawson, special ed teacher at Santa Fe High School in Edmond, and Rachel Weese, Pre-K through 1st grade special ed teacher Lake Park Elementary in Putnam City RW: "I have aides that have left to find better jobs. They were good aides, they just can’t afford to work in a school and do what we do." KD: "That really is one of the big reasons [we’re out here]: to support our support staff. The amount of money they make per hour has to be divided over 12 months, and so it really comes out to about seven dollars an hour where we are. Almost all of them work more than one job." RW: "All of my aides do." KD: "I have one that gets up at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning and goes to work at Target and does stocking, and then runs home and changes clothes and comes and works at our school from about 7:00 until about 2:30. And then she has her own special needs son that she takes care of after that. A lot of them have family members or know someone with a family member who has very special needs, and so they make great teacher assistants, but it’s just not a living wage. "

Kelly Dawson, special ed teacher at Santa Fe High School in Edmond, and Rachel Weese, Pre-K through 1st grade special ed teacher Lake Park Elementary in Putnam City
RW: "I have aides that have left to find better jobs. They were good aides, they just can’t afford to work in a school and do what we do."
KD: "That really is one of the big reasons [we’re out here]: to support our support staff. The amount of money they make per hour has to be divided over 12 months, and so it really comes out to about seven dollars an hour where we are. Almost all of them work more than one job."
RW: "All of my aides do."
KD: "I have one that gets up at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning and goes to work at Target and does stocking, and then runs home and changes clothes and comes and works at our school from about 7:00 until about 2:30. And then she has her own special needs son that she takes care of after that. A lot of them have family members or know someone with a family member who has very special needs, and so they make great teacher assistants, but it’s just not a living wage. "

 
 
   "If you’re told you’re dumb over and over again, or if you’re told you’re not worth it over and over again, you start to believe it. And so just by being told, ‘you’re not worth any of our funding or resources,’ I don’t want our students to grow up believing that, that they are not worth what they actually are. Because every kid, every teacher, every person, has inherent dignity and value.   I feel like the spirit of everybody that’s participating has stayed pretty high, but at the same time, our attitudes have stayed good. I think we’re all very tired, obviously, just being out here every day. But we’re used to that. Spending every day in a classroom is very tiring too. But the spirit’s really high. I feel like we’ve grown and kept momentum as we’ve gone through. We got a Friday legislative session out of the Senate. They’re making things happen, and so it feels like we’re getting somewhere. I wasn’t sure at the beginning of the week that we would get anywhere.'  —Cameron Liner, 5th grade teacher at Adams Elementary in Norman

"If you’re told you’re dumb over and over again, or if you’re told you’re not worth it over and over again, you start to believe it. And so just by being told, ‘you’re not worth any of our funding or resources,’ I don’t want our students to grow up believing that, that they are not worth what they actually are. Because every kid, every teacher, every person, has inherent dignity and value.

I feel like the spirit of everybody that’s participating has stayed pretty high, but at the same time, our attitudes have stayed good. I think we’re all very tired, obviously, just being out here every day. But we’re used to that. Spending every day in a classroom is very tiring too. But the spirit’s really high. I feel like we’ve grown and kept momentum as we’ve gone through. We got a Friday legislative session out of the Senate. They’re making things happen, and so it feels like we’re getting somewhere. I wasn’t sure at the beginning of the week that we would get anywhere.'

—Cameron Liner, 5th grade teacher at Adams Elementary in Norman

 “Every day I feel like I have to sell to my students that education is important. I feel like it’s a much harder job to do, to make them understand that their education is the most valuable thing that is offered to them as a U.S. citizen, when I know that my own state doesn’t value education. They portray that every year when they cut funding. I am here to protest the legislators lack of funding for public education and I hope they will see this movement as the community and the state standing behind teachers and our request for proper and sustainable funding for public education.” —Jamie Ziegler, English teacher at Union High School

“Every day I feel like I have to sell to my students that education is important. I feel like it’s a much harder job to do, to make them understand that their education is the most valuable thing that is offered to them as a U.S. citizen, when I know that my own state doesn’t value education. They portray that every year when they cut funding. I am here to protest the legislators lack of funding for public education and I hope they will see this movement as the community and the state standing behind teachers and our request for proper and sustainable funding for public education.”
—Jamie Ziegler, English teacher at Union High School

 
 
 A protestor carries a sign in a picket line.

A protestor carries a sign in a picket line.

 
 
   "I’m excited to see it come to this breaking point and to see Oklahoma step up. My daughter is brand new, and she hasn’t even gotten to school yet, so this is like preventative maintenance hopefully. Really hoping that everybody coming together can make an impact and change even her future." —Mary Fencl, Event planner and parent from Tulsa

"I’m excited to see it come to this breaking point and to see Oklahoma step up. My daughter is brand new, and she hasn’t even gotten to school yet, so this is like preventative maintenance hopefully. Really hoping that everybody coming together can make an impact and change even her future."
—Mary Fencl, Event planner and parent from Tulsa

 “I wanted to speak up for my future students. I do want to stay in Oklahoma, because Oklahoma needs good teachers. Despite the fact that they don’t care about their teachers, I want to stay here and work for my students that need me. Kids need good role models, and a lot of kids these days don’t have that.” —Micah Weygandt, Education major at Oklahoma Wesleyan University

“I wanted to speak up for my future students. I do want to stay in Oklahoma, because Oklahoma needs good teachers. Despite the fact that they don’t care about their teachers, I want to stay here and work for my students that need me. Kids need good role models, and a lot of kids these days don’t have that.”
—Micah Weygandt, Education major at Oklahoma Wesleyan University

 
   Jennifer (right), Gatewood Elementary Student, 8 years old MR: “Why are you here today?” J: “I’m here to support teachers.” MR: “How do you feel about your own teachers?” J: “Good!” MR: “Who’s your favorite teacher?” J: “Mrs. Platt.” MR: “Why?” J: “Because she’s nice.”   Lilly (left), Nichols Hills Elementary Student, 7 year old MR: “Why are you here today?” LS: “To support my teachers.” MR: “Why do you think it’s important to support teachers?” LS: “‘Cause they teach us and they support us in education!”

Jennifer (right), Gatewood Elementary Student, 8 years old
MR: “Why are you here today?”
J: “I’m here to support teachers.”
MR: “How do you feel about your own teachers?”
J: “Good!”
MR: “Who’s your favorite teacher?”
J: “Mrs. Platt.”
MR: “Why?”
J: “Because she’s nice.”


Lilly (left), Nichols Hills Elementary Student, 7 year old
MR: “Why are you here today?”
LS: “To support my teachers.”
MR: “Why do you think it’s important to support teachers?”
LS: “‘Cause they teach us and they support us in education!”

 “I have had to rely on family friends and donors to fund my classroom. I don’t get hardly anything from the state at all, especially for a music class. So unless they’re willing to up the funding for classrooms, I’m going to leave the state. And I don’t want to leave the state, because everyone I know and love is here.  Down to the smallest things like paper all the way up to the bigger things like instruments. We’re a growing band program, and the reason we can’t grow more is not because of the kids. The kids work so hard and do whatever I ask of them. We just don’t have the resources. And it limits the opportunities my students have.” —Tristianne Asbury, Band director at Capitol Hill High School

“I have had to rely on family friends and donors to fund my classroom. I don’t get hardly anything from the state at all, especially for a music class. So unless they’re willing to up the funding for classrooms, I’m going to leave the state. And I don’t want to leave the state, because everyone I know and love is here.
Down to the smallest things like paper all the way up to the bigger things like instruments. We’re a growing band program, and the reason we can’t grow more is not because of the kids. The kids work so hard and do whatever I ask of them. We just don’t have the resources. And it limits the opportunities my students have.”
—Tristianne Asbury, Band director at Capitol Hill High School

 
 
 Holly Bittner and three of her children show off their signs at the walkout.

Holly Bittner and three of her children show off their signs at the walkout.

 
 
 “We need more funding for education. I would gladly give up my raise if my kids could have more in the classroom. In our classroom, we need new desks, new chairs, books. Basic things like that. Copy paper, even. I just want people to know that we’re here for the kids. It really has very little to do with our raise and more to do with funding for education.” —Megan Paris, 2nd grade teacher at Country Estates Elementary School

“We need more funding for education. I would gladly give up my raise if my kids could have more in the classroom. In our classroom, we need new desks, new chairs, books. Basic things like that. Copy paper, even. I just want people to know that we’re here for the kids. It really has very little to do with our raise and more to do with funding for education.”
—Megan Paris, 2nd grade teacher at Country Estates Elementary School

 “I play saxophone in my high school, and the reason I care is that in the future, I’d like to join the music program and become a teacher. If you want to change something, you’ve got to do it yourself.” —Emma Mankin, Student at Long Grove High School, played in The Walkout Band

“I play saxophone in my high school, and the reason I care is that in the future, I’d like to join the music program and become a teacher. If you want to change something, you’ve got to do it yourself.”
—Emma Mankin, Student at Long Grove High School, played in The Walkout Band

 
 “Well, I am one of those teachers who have multiple jobs. I am a tax-preparer in the evening. I’ve also picked up a third job where I’ve been bookkeeping for a travel agency, so I don’t see my family in certain times of the year. So that’s how this affects us." —Tenishea Weatherall, Chemistry teacher Putnam City High School

“Well, I am one of those teachers who have multiple jobs. I am a tax-preparer in the evening. I’ve also picked up a third job where I’ve been bookkeeping for a travel agency, so I don’t see my family in certain times of the year. So that’s how this affects us."
—Tenishea Weatherall, Chemistry teacher Putnam City High School

 The Walkout Band performs Twisted Sisters' "We're Not Gonna Take It," chanting the chorus along with the crowd.

The Walkout Band performs Twisted Sisters' "We're Not Gonna Take It," chanting the chorus along with the crowd.

 
 
 Demonstrators march around the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Demonstrators march around the Oklahoma State Capitol.

 
 
 "I’m here for my kids. There’s things that they need in the classroom. It’s special ed, and there’s extra things that they need to be successful and for us, to be able to help them learn. Of course, we have to adapt to a lot of different needs, and those needs are not being met with the lack of funding. In our classroom the lack of funding impacts the students that rely on us to help toilet them. Diapers. Wipes. All sorts of hygiene products. That’s where it affects us the most. Our teachers are having to buy those products for the students, or they’re asking the parents to buy them when they’re already low-income due to the given conditions. Some of them struggle just because of all the therapy that some of the students have to go through. I used to manage a water park in Edmond, and I loved it. But I’m pursuing teaching, and I have made more money at the pool than I have teaching so far. It’s sad. I’d like to see Oklahoma do better, and I know they can.” —Nick Vincent, Special ed TA at Edmond Memorial High School

"I’m here for my kids. There’s things that they need in the classroom. It’s special ed, and there’s extra things that they need to be successful and for us, to be able to help them learn. Of course, we have to adapt to a lot of different needs, and those needs are not being met with the lack of funding.
In our classroom the lack of funding impacts the students that rely on us to help toilet them. Diapers. Wipes. All sorts of hygiene products. That’s where it affects us the most. Our teachers are having to buy those products for the students, or they’re asking the parents to buy them when they’re already low-income due to the given conditions. Some of them struggle just because of all the therapy that some of the students have to go through.
I used to manage a water park in Edmond, and I loved it. But I’m pursuing teaching, and I have made more money at the pool than I have teaching so far. It’s sad. I’d like to see Oklahoma do better, and I know they can.”
—Nick Vincent, Special ed TA at Edmond Memorial High School

 "I’m here for our students. We have so many kids in a classroom, sometimes up to 36. Right now, our kids don’t even have a drama teacher. My kids only have one elective a day, because we can’t afford any more elective teachers, and we have to share the ones we do have with the high school. Education has always been a hard job, but really for the last 10 years, there has been increased testing and increased pressure, but yet they pile more kids in with less resources. It just makes for so much tension. The kids are tense. The teachers are tense. We just can’t always give every student what they need, and don’t they deserve that?"  —Michelle Adams, assistant principal at Rogers Middle School in Oklahoma City, with daughter, Fenley

"I’m here for our students. We have so many kids in a classroom, sometimes up to 36. Right now, our kids don’t even have a drama teacher. My kids only have one elective a day, because we can’t afford any more elective teachers, and we have to share the ones we do have with the high school.
Education has always been a hard job, but really for the last 10 years, there has been increased testing and increased pressure, but yet they pile more kids in with less resources. It just makes for so much tension. The kids are tense. The teachers are tense. We just can’t always give every student what they need, and don’t they deserve that?"

—Michelle Adams, assistant principal at Rogers Middle School in Oklahoma City, with daughter, Fenley