Lori Decter Wright runs a food pantry in Oklahoma and says they often deliver to teachers and school staff who don’t make enough to feed their families.
“A teacher needs to work in Oklahoma for 17 years before they make $40,000,” she explained. “People are surprised because they don’t understand how little our teachers are paid. We see teachers when we are picking our children up and dropping them of. They don’t look like they’re struggling. And so, I think it’s shocking to people.”
Teachers and staff across Oklahoma continue to strike to protest low wages and lack of funding in schools. State lawmakers recently increased teacher and staff pay, but educators say it’s not enough.
“The support staff in our schools, we’re talking about like the school secretary, the receptionist, they’re more valuable right now,” Wright explained, “When they report their month income, it’s anywhere from $1,000 to $1,700 a month. I think it’s really hard to imagine that professionals working in a school setting are going to struggle to make ends meet. And then something like this happens and it raises our awareness that the secretary that we see when we drop our kids off at school is really on the margin of making it or not.”