BY SHARON MARTIN
If you have never spent time in a classroom, just you, the kids, and the curriculum, you have no idea the stamina required to be a teacher. Add education requirements, low pay, lack of respect, and mandates that make no sense to anyone but the lobbyists whose companies will benefit, and you have the makings of a genuine teacher drought.
Surely state leaders saw this coming.
Parenting is the only job more important to a society or an economy than teaching. Everyone talks about how important teachers are, but actions speak louder than words.
Ramming through an overdue pay raise without the means to pay for it is just ribbons and tissue paper. There’s nothing in the package. And a pay raise is not enough.
Schools need roofs that don’t leak and schedules that make sense. Teachers need real professional development, including graduate classes. Students need field trips, science labs, art classes, music lessons, and time in the curriculum for life skills. They need libraries with budgets for new books and trained librarians.
Some things are out of a teacher’s control. One is the punitive, costly test culture. Another is the socio-economic status of the district.
Parents need time to be part of their children’s education. Here’s a truth teachers and legislators both forget: if you are working three part-time eight-dollar-an-hour jobs, not only are you broke, but you’re too busy to attend school functions.
Poverty, disrespect for public servants and public services, and the failed notion that cutting taxes improves the budget have made Oklahoma a third world country. Before we can change this, our governor and legislators must admit that trickle-down economics doesn’t work. They must have the courage to raise taxes, especially on those who earn the most, and they must admit their culpability in the budget crisis.
Only then can Oklahoma tackle the teacher shortage and the looming social mayhem caused by failing to give students the best education our tax dollars can buy.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer