It began in Oklahoma on Monday, April 2. The sun was burning hot and the city was crowded, but nonetheless, the teachers put their discomforts aside, and continued to rally. As they began to shout and flood the streets with posters and determined faces, public school teachers from all areas of Oklahoma came to one realization: they are done.
They are done with the lawmakers for not doing their job. They are done with the constant cuts and promises to increase their raise. They are done with the individuals who wouldn’t take a stand on the issue.
Educational funding had its moments of praise after the Parkland school shooting, where students began to demand gun control and school safety. In order to fulfill these demands, Congress began to adjust laws and the state began to increase their allocation of funds per pupil to provide schools with aid towards stronger preventative measures against school shootings. But now, budget cuts have been made, and teachers are not happy about it— and they’re putting their foots down.
President Donald Trump has recently made cuts into the education budget, severing funds for public school programs. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, public schools funding raised from $592 billion to $658 billion between the years 2003-2008, only to decline in the years 2009 and so on. Since then, huge budget cuts have been made towards funding, resulting in a drop in teacher salary.
More than half the states in the United States have a 40% or less revenue count for public schools in the years 2013 and on. This is an average of a 46% revenue by state in the United States, according to the National Center of Education Statistics. Not only do public schools receive below the average funds in each state, but funds will continue to be cut further.
Oklahoma teachers are the first to speak up on the problem at hand, refusing to allow their efforts and hard work be put to shame. Together they gathered in Oklahoma City, introducing the start of a teachers protest. Teachers who have took the fight to the streets have threatened to walk-out if changes weren’t made.
Now, the walk-out has extended to its second week and changes are yet to be made. The prolonged walk-out has affected students and society alike. Schools across all of Oklahoma have been closed for the first week due to an overwhelming amount of teachers absent. Local community centers have partnered together to provide care, learning, meals, and entertainment for the students who are still waiting for their schools to reopen.
With its fervent support, the Oklahoma walk-outs don’t seem to be dying down anytime soon. On the contrary, with the growing amount of teachers, students, and parents joining forces, other areas in the United States might be influenced to do the same.
The government has a responsibility to provide resources and an expected amount of money to public schools, which must be equal to the funding given to charter and private schools. Teachers in Oklahoma (and possibly other States) refuse to stand down if their salaries and promised educational funding continue to be curtailed. As lawmakers struggle to come up with a solution and budget cuts in educational funding continue to take place, the walk-outs will only continue, growing stronger and angrier each day.