Just two weeks from tonight, we’ll be watching election results roll in.
Teachers will be watching with bated breath, wondering if the night will end with perusing houses in Plano on Zillow.
The good news is, support for SQ779 has been steady and consistent. Despite the barrage of anti-public ed fodder from our friends at the Oklahoman Editorial Board (who published no less than SEVEN articles against 779 last summer—seriously…I stopped counting), the people of Oklahoma seem to be on the same page: it’s not an ideal solution, but our legislators left us no choice. We’re hemorrhaging teachers to every surrounding state. And that warrants emergency measures.
I could be wrong, or perhaps buried under the work of operating a secondary vocal music program, but I’m surprised at the lack of campaigning against 779 by its detractors. I’m not an optimist by any stretch of the imagination (shocking, eh?), but I take that as a good sign. I expected to be bombarded with propaganda somehow painting teachers as greedy moochers and miraculously linking passage of 779 to the opening of the hellmouth. I think those against 779 realize it’s a lost cause. Turns out Oklahomans aren’t okay with mortgaging their children’s futures while the state financial situation continues to spiral downward.
Don’t make a liar out of me Oklahomans.
But despite the previous 222 words, this post is about a different item on your ballot. One that could affect infinitely more change for students and teachers in Oklahoma—one way or the other—than passing SQ779. I’m talking about your vote for state legislators.
After years of pleading with legislators to listen to the concerns of constituents instead of bending to the will of out-of-state interests, we’ve finally taken matters into our own hands. This election saw a slew of declarations for candidacy unlike anything we’ve seen since term limits went into effect over a decade ago. And many of those candidates are not career politicians. In fact, many tout their willingness to put aside callings to other professions while reluctantly pursuing a position in office that will allow them to address the issues plaguing our state. Because many of the previous classes of legislators were unwilling to do so.
And many are educators.
I know after years of legislative abuse, teachers are already preparing to go on the defensive once again before another legislative session begins. Murmurs of further cuts to education are trickling through conversations. Rumors abound about the return of the voucher wolves.
Let’s talk about vouchers for a second. In recent years, our legislators have adopted other euphemisms like “Education Savings Accounts” (ESAs) and “school choice”, but the motive is the same: pick the pocket of public schools under the guise of helping less fortunate kids, while truly seeking to subsidize private school for the wealthy ones.
Even with the support of multiple senior legislators, shenanigans had to ensue in order for a voucher bill to even advance out of committee. Like removing an opposing legislator from the committee, and never replacing him. Or the speaker and president pro-temp exercising their voting privilege on that particular committee meeting. And despite having a large Republican majority in both chambers, the voucher bill still died because they couldn’t rally the votes for it.
Folks, MANY of the voucher wolves (Hickman, Jolley, Nelson, Kern, Denney) will NOT be at the capitol next year. If they couldn’t get it done last year with all those people in place, imagine how difficult we can make it for them next session if we just vote the right people to the capitol.
Right now there are several races where educators are fighting tooth and nail for a seat at the table. Personally, I’d love to see a few victories in these seats:
Lloyd Snow in SD37
Kimberly Fobbs SD33
John Waldron SD39
Mickey Dollens in HD93
and Shawn Sheehan in SD15 (my own district)
In many of these races, the candidates are going blind into the election because they’re on a shoestring budget, unable to afford the polling. Reward their effort by showing up in two weeks to cast your vote for them. They need us to show them some love! And everybody loves a good Cinderella story, even if this madness is November and not March.
Seriously, folks. I am willing to bet if we #electoklaed to a few key seats in the legislature, vouchers (and other anti-public education measures) will be DEAD before the session even begins. Imagine what it would be like to spend a legislative session actually advocating for good legislation instead of constantly on the defensive of the bad stuff.
Many state elections are decided by just a few hundred, or even a handful of votes. How many teachers do you know in your district? We could swing any election we want to, if the mood strikes us. And all we have to do is carve out a few minutes to show up to our polling place on November 8th. And I’ll bet that scares the pants off some people.
Plus it would send a clear message to those in office: you work for Oklahomans, not for out-of-state interests seeking to capitalize on our kids.
You serve at our pleasure.