Today, we came, we saw, we rallied.
I used to be content to attend to the matters in my classroom and leave the advocacy to the heavy hitters. Lately, I have felt more and more compelled to speak out on behalf of public education. After all, I am a product of it. I owe a lot to the exceptional teachers who guided me through nearly two decades of elementary, secondary, and college education. I am also beginning to feel that change is only going to come if more of us demand it.
A few days ago, I asked if we could stand proud together as we rallied for education at the capitol. Tonight, it is clear to me we’re going to need to do a lot more than stand to win this war. Because that’s what we’re fighting, here. Not a battle. A war. It usually takes years of unrest, oppression, or injustice for a war to break out. This one’s been brewing for a while with year after year of budget cuts, unfunded mandates, and unfair assessment of schools and teachers. And to win a war, you need an army. Friends, we have one that’s more than 40,000 strong.
We heard some amazing speakers today. No offense, to the grown-ups but I think the kids stole the show. If anybody needs proof that public education works, they need look no further than the two amazing students, Deborah Samkutty and Kiante Miles, who inspired a crowd of thousands today with their powerful messages. However, Joy Hoffmeister said something that resonated with me. “It starts with a conversation.” It started with one of those today, perhaps before today, for many of you. But it’s going to take a lot of follow-up to get this train moving in the right direction.
Are you willing to continue the rally even now that it’s over? Will you continue to contact your legislators on a regular basis and hold them accountable with your vote? Will you stand with our State Superintendent and support #OkHigh5? Will you unite to put pressure on our legislators to solve the most detrimental issues to Oklahoma public education, namely the budget, the teacher shortage, and testing? Will you share the stories of success in your classroom, and promote the mission of public education in our great state? Will you rally parents, friends, and community members to our cause by continuing the conversation?
Every day in my high school choir, we warmed up by singing our alma mater. The words keep coming back to me as inspiration for these rally posts. First with [Mighty Lions,] stand proud together. Now, I am reminded of another line from that oh-so-familiar tune. Fighting on, we falter never…
Tomorrow, we go back into the classroom. When the last bell has rung, when the last kid has left the hallways, when the last bus has pulled away…will you remember to keep the rally going? Will you fight on, and falter never?
Our kids are counting on it.