Oklahoma Strikes: Teachers Opinions

Near the end of March of 2018, teachers in the state of Oklahoma have gone on strike in order to win higher raises in their salaries and gain additional funding for the school and students that they teach. These teachers have planned this walkout for months to show their desperate desire to earn more funding for themselves and their students.

Educators across the US have varying opinions on the strike movements that have stretched out into other states. Some of them believe that it was the right thing to do in order to receive the attention needed to further progress wage raises for teachers who live in the lower teacher income states and others believe that there could have been an alternate way to approach or address the problem.

Two teachers at West Johnston High School see the strikes as the right thing to do for their students and that it has also impacted them.

“I think it is a good thing because the teachers are paid very badly and a lot of their supplies have to be bought by themselves and the schools are just falling apart all-together,” AP European History and World History teacher Colleen Bonner said. “They are not just striking for themselves, but also for the kids.”

Not only does she think that what they are doing is a good example for other teachers in different states, but that the approach the teachers are taking are extremely necessary for them to receive the attention needed.

“I believe that the approach taken was appropriate because they went through many channels as they could in order to get what they needed for their kids,” Bonner said. “I know for me that I have to buy school supplies that the school can’t offer me at times, and it’s hard because we still have to be able to live and pay our bills.”

English II teacher Elizabeth Gurkin was at first kind of shocked to hear the a whole state was striking but after reading several articles and looking at pictures about the conditions in which the schools were in, quickly realized that this was long overdue.

“A lot of people were arguing that they are not thinking about their students, but they are thinking about them. This impacts the students directly because when you don’t have a safe facility or when you have forty plus students in your class there is no other way of being effective or helping them,” Gurkin said.

What makes Gurkin feel more relatable to the striking is that she as well has to buy school supplies for her students with her own money too at times. Although she does get most of her needs from a program called FSI or from storage closets around the school, they may not necessarily have the specific items she may need for classroom projects.
“Sometimes there are specific things that I may need like glitter, poster boards, or even dry erase markers which the school can’t provide and that is when I usually have to spend my own money,” Gurkin said. “But we are still fortunate enough that West Johnston provides storage facility where you can go get paper clips and staples and colored paper. So we have some things but if I want extra, I always end up buying it myself.”