Being a full-time teacher shouldn’t entail working multiple jobs and relying on food pantries — but in Oklahoma it does. Both Kily Keeling and Angela Bailey are public school teachers in Oklahoma City, as well as single mothers with three kids. They’re also, like thousands of teachers across the state, struggling to make ends meet.
Kily relies on a government program called Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, as well as handouts to help feed her kids every month. Angelia is in a similar situation. Despite being a teacher for nearly 30 years, she still has to drive the bus before and after school, tutor, sell quilts, and drive for Lyft to make enough money for her family.
Oklahoma teachers are the lowest paid in the nation, making an average of $42,000. The state is also near the bottom in per-student spending and education funding has dwindled over the years thanks to its Republican-led Congress’ spending strategies.
These are some of the many reasons that thousands of teachers left their classrooms on April 2nd, 2018 to protest for more public education funding. But after 10 days of demonstrations, announcements were made that the walkout was over and that the Senate Republicans weren’t going to budge on any more money for public education.
On top of this, despite the overwhelming support from Oklahoma citizens to increase the public education budget, voters aren’t electing officials into office that support that platform. Whether this is due to single-issue voting, or scare tactics, these trends are what perpetuate unfortunate circumstances with the public-school system.