Teacher Pay and the Bigger Picture

Today, as teachers throughout Oklahoma march on the State Capital, the debate continues as to whether or not teacher pay should be increased…how much is enough versus more than enough…and what about the children–aren’t the teachers concerned about this children missing school??

As an educator, I am confused by those who would resist and argue that teachers are not deserving to be paid a fair, equitable and competitive living wage! They are the ones on the front lines with our children. I have heard nurses outcry that they should be paid more for caring for the sick. I have heard administrators decry that still more must be done for health and human services. And, then there are of course those who feel that dollars must never be reduced for corrections to house those society would deem worthy of punishment.

Yes. Everyone deserves to get a larger portion of pie; but there is only so much pie to go around.  However, when we talk about education and the plight of teachers, there is a very important issue at stake:

Without inspired, gifted, and willing teachers, there will be no nurses, no administrators, no doctors, no governors, and no politicians.  I am who I am today because of Katy Monfort (my 10th grade literature teacher who taught me a love for words, writing and expression); of Louis Jones (my 11th grade math teacher who impressed upon me the need to follow the process and never be afraid of the numbers); of Kathryn Horton (my 9th grade chemistry teacher who broadened my world with science); Nathan McGuire, Bobby Upshaw and Mrs. Hubbard who showed me the power that comes when a teacher believes in a student; and then there was my high school counselor, Annette Nantois, who searched, researched and helped me successfully plan my entry into college. There are countless others who poured into me so great a thirst for knowledge that I would be a lifelong learner capable of learning anything.

THAT IS WHAT IS AT STAKE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION.  If we do not educate them with teachers who are called to teach, then they will be unable to aspire to the greatness in all of us. We always think someway, somehow it’ll all work out. It won’t.  Now is the time for us to be deliberate and intentional in deciding that Oklahoma Teachers are worth more than being paid what’s left over.