THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Schools have been in the news for many different reasons: Parkland, Oklahoma teacher strike and teacher grants turning into loans plus interest. What can we learn from these incidents?
Teaching. Many positive words come to mind when we thinking about teachers, such as that they are advocates and changemakers in a young person's life, actively influencing the community at large by educating the next generation; being a sounding board and providing suggestions for concerned parents with a struggling child.
With the plethora of goodness that comes from teaching, there are an increasing amount of drawbacks. There is the practical aspect of being able to live. Teaching has historically been a job that underpays. Teaching also does not get instant respect: there is more of a sense of impressed pity. "You're a teacher? What a tough job. You must be a saint." Not many lawyers and doctors get that as a response to their career fields. Teaching does not get the oohs and ahhs that other prestigious career paths get. Finally, teaching, no matter what age group, has become a dangerous profession. Every year, teachers instruct, interact and walk amongst a sea of students with different backgrounds, home lives and mental stabilities.
Unfortunately, Parkland is not an anomaly. There have been devastating massacres at schools before. But the Parkland students are what teachers hope and dream for each and every one of their students. They hope to see their students act, fight and believe in themselves enough to make a difference in this world. They work hard to instill a sense of pride in each of their students even when the child goes home to a world where they never hear a single positive affirmation.
Our government needs to do more for our teachers. Not just say that teachers need to be paid more or get more resources. Actually do something to a century-old institution.
In Oklahoma, teachers are striking for a higher salary. Higher salaries for a teacher is not just about their own livelihood. Increased salaries for teachers have more benefits such as higher-quality teachers because quality candidates would want to become teachers, leading to more resources for students whether it be for support or an advancement in technology. Again, a teaching strike is not an anomaly. But when will there be a change? I understand that taxes and state budgets would have to be measured, moved around and discussed for such a thing to happen, but isn't that an important conversation to start and come to a consensus on?
While you read this, you may note that, yes, all of this is awful, but what can I, as an individual, do? We, as a community, society, and nation, can vocally reinforce the importance of having quality education in all of our schools, which means that we need quality teachers. We need to be a part of the change in our gun reform laws. We need to start seeing teaching as a prestigious profession that must have the respect and care that it deserves.
The Oklahoma State Board of Education