Last week, Oklahoma state legislators passed an historic spending package for public schools. But the $50 million increase in school funding and $6,000 annual salary raise weren’t enough to satisfy many teachers, who organized a state-wide walkout.
Oklahoma public school students were forced to stay home for at least four days while their teachers protested at the state capitol, demanding an additional $150 million in funds, even more substantial raises, and additional support staff.
“We will hold the line until hell freezes over, and then we will be here on ice skates,” Muskogee High School teacher Diane Walker told CNN’s Nick Valencia Tuesday. “We love our kids.”
Diane Walker, 48, is a Muskogee High School teacher who is walking out for a 2nd day. “We will hold the line until hell freezes over and then we will be here on ice skates. We love our kids.” pic.twitter.com/HzOzeekvP0
— Nick Valencia (@CNNValencia) April 3, 2018
If this sounds crazy to you, you’re not alone. After the strike entered its second day, State Rep. Kevin McDugle (R) vowed that he would vote against any additional measures to reward the entitled educators for their behavior.
“I’m not voting for another stinking measure when they’re acting the way they’re acting,” McDugle said Tuesday in a since-deleted Facebook live video, The Hill reported.
He noted that though he had voted in favor of increased funding last year, he believes the teachers’ recent conduct sets a poor example for students.
“Go ahead, be pissed at me if you want to,” McDugle added.
The teachers claim that they are protesting so aggressively because they care about children’s education, which will apparently suffer if their demands aren’t met.
Now, I don’t doubt that many of them truly believe this — after all, the progressive narrative is that public school teachers are a bunch of Mother Theresas who live solely to impart wisdom and implant goodness in the minds of our nation’s future leaders.
But what if they’re mistaken?
What if public school teachers are not the backbone of American society that progressive politicians and the media make them out to be, and pro-teacher rhetoric is just the Left’s way of attacking school choice?
Why have other options when government-funded schools are THE BEST OPTION EVER? the thinking goes.
“Just like Oklahoma families, we are only able to do what our budget allows,” Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement Monday. “We must be responsible not to neglect other areas of need in the state, such as corrections and health and human services, as we continue to consider additional educational funding measures.”
WHAT other areas of need? cry the protesters. To them, public school education isn’t just a good—it is the capital-G Good.
According to this reasoning, the state’s refusal to meet teachers’ demands amounts to an attack on education itself. This is a delusion, one that the recent unrest in Oklahoma illustrates well.
Speaking to CNN, Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said the additional $50 million “will buy less than one textbook per student in Oklahoma.” In other words, crumbs.
But here’s what these entitled protesters — ahem, educators — refuse to acknowledge: Not every Oklahoma family chooses to send their children to public school. Contrary to popular opinion, there are more options than ever for parents who don’t feel that their local district school adequately meets their children’s educational needs.
Some government schools are better than others, and parents should be free to choose to send their kids there if they want. But just because Mrs. So-And-So went to the state capitol to protest doesn’t mean she’s right or knows better than her pupils’ parents.
People should have the same sentiment about the public school system as they do about other insufficiently accountable government-run bodies, such as the VA, the DMV, and the Social Security Administration. For average Americans, these places rightfully engender a sense of frustration, waste, and even despair.
Sure, you meet the occasional pleasant DMV employee or a kind VA nurse, but that doesn’t mean these individuals aren’t part of a very broken system that encourages entitlement, praises mediocrity, and overlooks excellence. What would make government schools any different?
I attended public school from kindergarten through 12th grade. Some of my teachers were great. Many were not. And yet Oklahoma taxpayers are supposed to believe that every single teacher in the state has merited a $10,000 raise?
Teachers are not saints, and pretending that they are above criticism will only ensure the continued decline of a public school system in desperate need of reform.