Oklahoma’s right to protest their lack of funding

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By Alex Kerravala, Staff Writer

Oklahoma has one of the most underfunded public education programs in the entire nation, and it is at no fault to those teaching. In response to this, teachers have been walking out and protesting in the middle of Washington DC.

Despite the lawmakers describing the teachers protesting as “like teenagers wanting better cars” Oklahoma Teachers have a right to exactly what they are doing.

As you may or may not know, each and every American citizen is entitled to a right to protest.

Regardless if you agree with their protest, you have a pretty hard argument to make if you believe they do not have a right.

Now that it is understood the teachers have a right to protest, I am going to explain why they deserve to protest. Not only is this protest completely legal, but it is also 100 percent valid.

Year after year, Oklahoma legislature has been cutting taxes and cutting public services, such as education. As of 2015, Oklahoma was the fourth lowest funded state when it comes to education at just over $7,000 per student state wide, and I imagine that number has only gone down since then.

Oklahoma’s education funding has gotten so bad that public schools in Oklahoma have a four-day school week, simply because they cannot afford to keep schools up and running for that extra day of productivity.

It may sound inconceivable to us up here in Massachusetts, one of the most successful states for education, but this alternative to low funding isn’t only possible, but it’s actually happening.

Kids free of homework and the needed school time may rejoice, since it seems every weekend is a long weekend, but the state and our country suffer as a whole.

What makes this even more astonishing is that Oklahoma has the sixth highest combined state and local sales tax in the country, so despite the obvious abundance of money going towards the government, it is seeing diminishing returns.

Oklahoma is in terrible shape, education wise. Nothing could be more proof of that than the fact that public primary schools cannot even stay open five days a week.

As if that wasn’t enough, OK teachers, such as one Dora Blackman, a fifth grade public school teacher from South Central Oklahoma, have been getting second jobs as commonplace just to afford the cost of living.

Teaching is a job I can’t imagine wanting to do even with making just enough to get by. To hear that Oklahoma teachers can’t even get by on a teachers salary is heartbreaking to say the very least.

This really couldn’t be farther from “teenagers wanting nicer cars.” Its not the teachers being entitled, it’s them asking to be able to get by. It’s about teachers not wanting to sacrifice their lives just to survive.

To argue the teachers do not deserve to make these protests is heartless, and frankly, I am surprised it took as long as it did to begin protesting. These teachers’ lives were misery between working not one but two terrible jobs without any support from those in the government they feel are there to support them. Why school teachers held out as long as they did is beyond me, but what matters is the changes are happening now.

The legislature is listening to these school teachers, if for no other reason than the fact that the world is watching.

Much like every other social movement of 2018, progress is promising, simply because activists were able to stir up a crowd, make noise, and get attention.

Photo Courtesy: Affinity Magazine

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