Oklahoma parent Matt Reynolds backs a teachers’ strike that has shut schools statewide, but each day it drags on is another he has to pay for daycare for three of his children.
“I’m mad at the teachers for walking out, but I’m more mad at the government for forcing them to do this,” said Reynolds, a 51-year-old chef in Yukon.
Lawmakers and striking teachers remained at odds over the state’s financing of its public education on Thursday, the 11th day of a walkout that has affected about a half million students.
The standoff is testing the patience of parents, many of whom support the labor action after seeing firsthand the fallout from slashed education budgets. But they are weary of making special accommodations for their children, and worry about how the missed class time will affect upcoming state testing and national advanced placements exams.
Some parents said the strike that started on April 2 has made them consider private schools, home schooling or moving to a district with more secure funding. Many said the prospects of a prolonged strike would eventually lead them to lobby their local districts to return to class.
“I’m at the point where if education doesn’t get adequate funding, I’ll say screw it and home school my kids since we can’t afford to move,” said Lisa Snell, who has been forced to take her two children to work during the strike.
Snell’s empathy runs deep for the state’s teachers, who are among the worst paid educators in the United States.
She has been asked to provide pencils, crayons, paper and tissue for the struggling elementary school her children attend near Tahlequah in eastern Oklahoma. Her kids bring home school books in tatters and have to go shoeless in gym class to preserve the decaying floor, Snell said.
“I know what those teachers are going through,” Snell said. “It’s not just about raises.”
The main union in the strike is urging parents to make their voices heard by voting in this year’s midterm election for candidates who back increased spending, or have educators run for office.
Republicans, who dominate state politics, are appealing to conservative voters by saying they have done enough by raising education spending by more than 20 percent, and more spending would be wasteful.
PRESSURE EXPECTED TO MOUNT
The legislature passed its first major tax hikes in a quarter century to raise funds for schools and increase teacher pay by an average of $6,100. Educators are asking for a $10,000 raise for teachers over three years.
“We’ve accomplished a whole lot, and I just don’t know how much more we can get done this session,” state Representative John Pfeiffer, a top Republican lawmaker, told reporters this week on the education funding issue.
Pressure is likely to build on legislators and teachers to reach a deal that gets kids back to class.
For the most part, teachers have been given permission by their districts to participate in walkouts and have been paid, with the idea that they would make up for lost time as they do for closures due to inclement weather. But that could soon change as the cushion in school calendars runs out.
Two large districts, Bartlesville and Sand Springs, ordered schools to resume on Thursday. Tulsa Public Schools, the state’s second-largest district, has run out of inclement weather days and plans to lengthen school days when students return.
Legislators also are in a tough spot, said Gregg Garn, dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma.
“They have kids in public schools and they live in the communities,” he said. “They are getting the signal that the investments need to be there.”
Candice Stubblefield, 43, of Midwest City wants a quick resolution.
“They have missed so many days now,” said Stubblefield, whose daughter attends public school. “Both the legislature and teachers seem like they are being stubborn and unyielding.”
Reporting by Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton in Tulsa, Heide Brandes in Oklahoma City and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Richard Chang
Mississippi sheriff busted for complaining Hispanic lawmaker is ‘worse than a black person’
On Friday, the Atlanta Black Star reported that Jim Johnson, the sheriff of Lee County, Mississippi, made a racist comment about Hispanic GOP state Rep. Shane Aguirre while complaining about his opposition to the construction of a new county jail outside Tupelo.
Aguirre, Johnson told white Lee County Supervisor Phil Morgan in a 2017 text message first released Tuesday by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, was "worse than a black person."
Another blue wave? This expert says is just might happen
In July 2018, the most widely respected analysts were decidedly uncertain whether the Democrats could retake the House. On July 6, Cook Political Report, for example, listed 180 seats as "solid" for Democrats, with 12 likely/lean and 3 "toss-up or worse." If the Democrats won all of those and the 22 GOP-held seats described as "toss-ups" — they'd still be one seat short of a majority, at 217.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Log Cabin Republican burned to the ground on live TV for ‘idiotic’ op-ed defending Trump on LGBTQ issues
On Saturday's edition of "AM Joy," former Senate aide Jimmy Williams clashed with Log Cabin Republicans spokesman Charles Moran over his Washington Post op-ed hailing President Donald Trump for supposedly taking "bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community."
"Since Trump became president, he's done, established, promulgated rules, or met with virulently homophobic leaders in the White House 123 times. Not 100 times, not 23 times, 123 times," said Williams. "In fact, yesterday, the Trump Department of Justice sent an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States saying transgendered Americans don't have the right to not be discriminated against in the workplace. They did that yesterday! I am glad President Trump is trying to decriminalize gender hate in the United States. I cannot go and adopt a child in South Carolina, where I currently am as we speak, because the president of the United States granted a waiver to South Carolina back in January of this year saying that adoption agencies in the state can say no to gay people trying to adopt."