Don’t rock the boat.
It seems like good advice on the surface. After all, rocking the boat often leads to the tipping of the boat, and no one likes to suddenly go overboard. However, we’re at a place in education where it’s time to rock the boat. And as the daughter of a teacher who currently works in Oklahoma, the 50th ranked state for teacher pay, I fully support a teacher strike.
It’s not just about getting better pay for my mom in Oklahoma, though she is pretty amazing. She’s won numerous teaching awards, has her master’s degree, and has been nationally board certified for years. No, it’s about supporting the people who are responsible for building our future. And when it gets to the point where educators are so fed up that they decide to strike, we should support them.
My mom hasn’t had a raise in more than 10 years, and the so-called “benefits of being a state employee” don’t really exist anymore. So on behalf of my mom, all Oklahoma educators, and every teacher who has gone on strike or spoken out against something they believe in, here’s how we can all offer support.
1. Tell teachers how much they matter.
It’s easy to think how amazing teachers are. We probably even tell our family, friends, and coworkers. Yet, when is the last time you told a teacher? They can never hear this enough! Just send a quick note or email and let the educators in your life know that they matter.
2. Understand the facts.
It’s easy to talk about something from a distance without really knowing the facts. For instance, did you know that when they talk about average pay for teachers that they are including benefits as well? This means that when you hear a report that Oklahoma teachers make $45,000 a year, this includes about $7,000 worth of benefits. This isn’t an accurate representation of salary. Most teachers in Oklahoma, the lowest paid state in the country, have a starting annual salary of $31,000.
3. Call your representatives.
Anytime there is a teacher strike or protest, you can get involved by calling your local representatives. It might not feel like you’re doing much, but it’s important to let your voice be heard and recorded in an official way. This is true for any teacher issue in any state.
4. Talk to kids about teacher walkouts.
Don’t leave your kids in the dark. They interact with teachers every single day, and they deserve to know what’s going on. You don’t have to tell them each and every detail. But you do want them to know what is happening and why it’s important to their teachers.
5. Show your support on social media.
Social media can be a truly powerful tool in times like this. Just changing your profile photo, using a filter, or showing your support in a public way can make others aware of what’s going on. It’s also a wonderful way to show support to the teachers you know who might see it.
6. Don’t say teacher pay “isn’t that bad” or talk about their “summers off.”
It’s not your place to judge a teacher or what they do. Remember that they are educating the future of our country, which is incredibly important work. What teachers have done or made in the past should have no bearing on their value or importance for the future.
7. Don’t judge teachers for walking away from the classroom.
I’ve heard criticism from people, asking why this can’t be solved in a different way or worrying about the kids or parents that have to deal with unplanned time off. Don’t let yourself get caught up in this. Protests, strikes, and walkouts are never a first line of action, and they’re not meant to be easy. Sometimes extreme times call for extreme measures. The future of our kids is worth far more.
It’s time to rock the boat.
What’s your take on teacher walkouts? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out the 5 biggest reasons why teachers quit.