It’s been three days since 60% of Oklahomans told teachers and kids we aren’t worth a penny. We’re out of school today, and I’m still incredibly angry with the people of this state.
Spare me the comments that start out, “I’m all for teachers, but…”. I think it’s a safe assumption that most of you looking for a “better” way will find yourselves too busy to visit the Capitol or nag your legislators when the session begins in February. The few of you who follow up with the promise will soon realize your mistake when you find out what we’ve been up against for the past eight years.
And now I see efforts on social media to try to make something positive out of this. People are asking what they can do to make teachers feel appreciated.
Well, you know…a $5000 raise would have been a good start.
Folks, no amount of thank you notes, school supply drives, sonic gift cards, or 50% off Chili’s coupons are going to make us feel better. (As if I could afford a nice place like Chili’s on my paltry teacher’s salary.) We can’t send our kids to college, or even to piano lessons, solely on the satisfaction of a job well done. Last time I checked, they don’t accept “fulfillment of a calling” as payment for my groceries. Only cash, check, or charge.
We’ve been going about this all wrong.
We’ve been trying to play the game with integrity. By promoting facts. By trying to educate the general public on complicated issues like school finance. By showcasing our teachers and celebrating our schools.
Well, I don’t know about you, friends, but I’m fresh out of rainbows and unicorns. I’m in the mood for some good ole’ fashion come-uppance.
We know there was a huge push to convince Oklahomans to vote NO on 779 in the last two weeks leading up to the election. They flooded the airwaves on radio and television with misleading commercials full of half-truths and outright inaccuracies concerning 779. They deliberately misled the public, essentially tricking them into seeing a distorted view of the language in 779. And not 48 hours after the election, the “Oklahoma Deserves Better” coalition, the anti-779 campaign, dismantled their Facebook page, and haven’t been heard from since. So much for that “better” plan they never had any intention of pursuing (as if one existed at all). “Oklahoma Deserves Better”, was smart about it, too. They waited until the end of the campaign to form their organization officially because they won’t have to disclose their financial information to the ethics commission until Jan. 1st, thereby protecting their donors.
Well, I don’t plan to wait that long.
We know this push came largely out of OKC. Sure, plenty of other municipalities voiced their opposition, feeling that one penny would be enough to convince people not to buy stuff and things anymore. (insert eye roll emoji here). Because asking people to pay an additional dollar for every hundred they spend is much more detrimental to business than a crumbling education system. But regardless of declarations by various chambers of commerce, the people with the money are the ones who moved the needle. Are we really supposed to think they organized, raised funds, and produced all those commercials in just two weeks? I don’t think so. A number of reliable sources have led me to believe that most of the money was raised by and/or came from Oklahoma City. And the entire effort was largely backed and promoted by the Greater OKC Chamber, no doubt to protect their interests in promoting their own penny sales tax, MAPS.
So, I plan to boycott OKC.
I pledge to do my best not to spend any money in OKC city limits. I won’t buy a single sack of groceries, or a drop of gasoline there. I won’t fill a single prescription there. Not a single haircut, oil change, or gym membership. I won’t buy a single Christmas present at Penn Square Mall, or any other retailer. I don’t care how many triple-doubles Westbrook throws up, I won’t attend a single Thunder event, or even purchase one item of merchandise (especially since it is rumored Clay Bennett was one of the masterminds behind anti-779 propaganda). I will not eat in Bricktown. I won’t visit the museums, the civic center, or the movie theaters. I will not attend one concert there, nor will I buy one ounce of full-strength beer or wine. Not in a bar, a convenience store, or a liquor store.
They don’t think I’m worth a penny? Fine. I won’t spend a cent there either.
Not. One. Penny.
Will OKC miss the tax revenue from my paltry teacher pay? No. But at least it’s good for a half-hearted laugh to imagine me, a one-woman protest, picketing Thunder games with signs that read, “Clay Bennett HATES TEACHERS”.
Nah. It would take more than just me to make this a real movement.
And right now, the only things inspiring me are these:
Oklahoma Legislator pay: 15th in the nation
Oklahoma Teacher pay: 50th in the nation
My Oklahoma Teacher Salary with a master’s and 10 years’ experience: $36, 500.
My potential salary moving to any of the several dozen districts in the Dallas Metroplex: $55,000 plus.