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Board of Education authorizes shutdown

Originally posted March 13, 2018

Union Public Schools voted without dissent to allow its superintendent to shut down school for up to 25 days. More than 485 teachers were in attendance.

“I know this board agenda item says ‘25 days,’ but it will be indefinite as far as I’m concerned, until teachers get a pay raise,” said Kirt Hartzler, Union superintendent.

See Tulsa World story




Teachers demand funding for raises from the state

Chris Payne, Chief Communications Officer, live tweeted several comments from the meeting. Below are some of those comments:

  • Liz Martin/PTA president - “State budget cuts have affected school. Class sizes too big. Too many emergency certified. Stop the insanity!”
  • Brendan Jarvis: “I support a shutdown in support of increased teacher pay. Moral imperative for legislators to fix this problem.”
     “Many people who serve our children can no longer afford to do so. We are going to be a relentless voice for children.”
  • Jim Douthat, teacher: To the 152 students I have, I’m sorry.I gave you the best I could, but I didn’t stand up for you. Today, that changes.
    Union Bd: please grant Dr. Hartzler the power to close schools in order for teachers to march and advocate for funding.”
    “Legislators, now is the time to make Oklahoma the state that teachers run TO, and not FROM!”
  • Sam Loney, 16-year-teacher, Ochoa: “My family knows education. It’s in our blood. There are plans being made by the OEA for a statewide..”
    “...walkout. If this walkout happens, all activities risk being canceled. Don’t want that for my students. We want to be in the classroom.”
    “Our students deserve the best. Our lawmakers are making that IMPOSSIBLE. Students deserve teachers who make a livable, respectable wage.”
    “Teachers shouldn’t have to work a 2nd or 3rd job. They shouldn’t have to choose between a job in another state or making a livable wage.”
    “Union has a reputation for having THE BEST. Together, we can make a difference!”
  • Taya Oelze, Union Teacher of the Year: “While we are here to ask for a pay raise, we are here to ask for a better education for students. We are in support of a work stop. Our students deserve a quality education, not by someone who was hired using an emergency certificate.”
    “Students deserve smaller class sizes. Research shows that higher quality learning takes place in an environment with smaller class sizes.”
    “Our students deserve passionate teachers, NOT tired ones! We are their biggest advocates. We have been, and we always will be. We want to be WARRIORS OF HOPE for our teachers and for future generations.” 
  • Anita Winn: “This is my 10th year of teaching at Union. I knew the pay scale when I started. What I didn’t realize was the physical strain.”
    “I worked a second job for many years. Left it to take care of my dying husband. I tutor a child twice a week to make ends meet.”
    “I go home exhausted, but love my job. My state doesn’t value our children and their futures. I can’t stand by and watch my state . . . “
    “...continue to denigrate this noble profession.”
  • Brandy McCombs: “I implore you, our Union leaders, to not back down. If our legislators don’t come up with a plan to strengthen education...
    “...please don’t back down! I calculated time NOT on contract. Resulted in 60 UNPAID DAYS per year. $600-$1,000 spent personally on supplies
    “I know no one who would work an additional 60 days WITHOUT PAY or fund $1,000 out of their own pocket, outside of teachers.”
    “Our own families are getting shortchanged. Enough is enough! We need Union’s board to be a megaphone. Stand strong. Don’t back down!”
  • Adrienne Fore: “My 17th year teaching at Union. My 5th grader gets 1/2 the enrichment my 7th grader got (due to cuts).Hard to find t’chers.”
  • Will McAlister, teacher: “Honored to teach at Union 9th GC. To have an admin that advocates for teachers on behalf of students is amazing.”
    “I’ve heard arguments from Oklahomans who don’t support teacher walkout. These are people who think we want a yacht. They paint us as whiny “...babies. Not when my dept. head leaves for a second job, and my wife works from 4 - 8 a.m. in the morning when she should be w/ our child
  • Thomas Jefferson: “I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is for the diffusion of knowledge among our people.”
  • Jennifer Steen, 6th grade teacher: single mom who doesn’t make a living wage. I run a small publishing business. If things don’t change by April 2, I am walking out. People have been saying, ‘Poor teachers’ for 20 years. It’s time to DO SOMETHING about it!”
    “I’ve seen wars in Afghanistan, the way children suffered due to inadequacies. I became a teacher to fight ignorance in my own land.”
    “America is a long way from what I saw in those countries. If we don’t protect our freedoms with a literate public, we are in trouble.”
    Paying teachers isn’t something I’m asking for out of my own selfishness. I’ve only been teaching 4 yrs, and yet I’m among most experienced.
    “Much profit is made from oil taken from our state. It’s only fair that our children should benefit thru education.”
    “Why do oil companies get $500M in tax cuts? It’s getting harder for legislators to explain these problems away. Okla. ISN’T broke!”
    “Call our legislators and tell them to DO THEIR JOB! Do it for our children.”
  • Audrey Rhodes, student: “My mom would go to the store and buy packs of paper and pencils for students who forgot to bring them.”
    “No matter what time it is — summer or holiday — my teacher mom was ALWAYS working. Grading papers. Her work ethic stood out for me!”
  • Anita Gennetay, English, 9GC: “My students come from all over the world. When a community hurts, they look for a scapegoat. Legislators see my students as a scapegoat. Emotionally fragile students. Scarcity breeds contempt. I urge the board to vote to give Dr. Hartzler the power to close schools in the event of a teacher walkout. For the good of students.”
  • Cindy Wilson: “In my time as a teacher, I haven’t seen a raise in my pay. Please fight for us and our students.”
  • Susan Henderson, Roy Clark Elem.: “The board has always supported us. You scraped together enuf to give us a 1% pay increase this yr. We just can’t be stretched any thinner. Teachers deciding it’s not worth it to teach in Okla. anymore. Districts in Texas recruit us away.”
    “I did some math. Target is giving emps raise from $9 to $12 per hr. I LOVE Target, but we deserve a raise too!”
    “Writing and calling legislators is NOT enough. My husband works at QuikTrip. He shares pay scales from other states. ‘We could move.’”
    “I keep telling him no. Our kids deserve to know more. I’m Nat’l Bd Certified and have 2 master’s degrees, and we’re NOT making it!”
  • Madison Berryhill, student: “The walk-out is about the students. Teachers need more $$. This little pay and no appreciation is a joke.”
    “It scares me of the education that awaits students behind me. I will seek job opportunities outside this state after graduation.”
  • Lydia Leslie, 5th gr teacher: Teach piano lessons in addt’n to teaching. My paycheck is $2,000 per month. Take home $24,000 a year. Not enuf
    “I’m the rule and not the exception. I stay becuz I love what I do. I stay because it’s the most important job I can do. Thx for yr support.
  • Faith Rettedal, Moore Elem: “Just 2 yrs ago, I was in a post-divorce situation. My taxable income was $12,341 for the yr. I wouldn’t have survived w/out the support of family and friends. Hard to support 2 children on unlivable wages. Public ed in our state continues to decline. No more cutting corners or for ‘You knew what you were getting into.’ Time for legis to put their $ where their mouth is.”
  • Blake Martin: “1,429 emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma by Aug. 2017. Our students deserve better. Coming to school is bright light for many of our students. We’re grateful that we work for a district that consistently supports teachers. We’re not walking OUT on students. We’re walking out FOR students!”
  • Javier Priego, senior, soccer player: “It would be a shame to have soccer season interrupted [by work stoppage]. As much as it would hurt we are willing to give up our season, if it will help teachers. I have a brother coming up behind me and I’m a soccer coach at Ochoa Elementary. I want to see the upcoming generation to do well not only on the field, but in the classroom. I want them to grow as people For us to miss school is unfair and absurd. I want a better education for the future. Teachers are not just teachers, they’re human beings. I take 4 AP classes, and it’s a lot of work. That’s not just work on me. It’s work on my teachers. It’s not fair they are paid so little.
    They come in early, stay after school. They work weekends. Teachers don’t get what they deserve. Teachers who stay up to 3 a.m. grading.
    “t’s not about teachers being greedy. How are we going to grow as a society if we don’t have the people here putting in the work?
    I have thought about being a teacher, but that thought lasted about 3 seconds. How sad there are smart students who don’t want to be teachers.
  • Junior Lucas Chad: “Students all stand behind this movement. We are advocating not only for our teachers, but also ourselves. We don’t want to miss prom and other activities. Okla. legislators have had a decade to improve education, and they’ve done nothing. I urge our fellow students to take action. Contact your legislators! It’s time we stand for those who have sacrificed for us!”
  • Dr. Kirt Hartzler: “I am proud of our students, proud of our teachers. I know this board item says it’s for 25 days, but it will be indefinite as far as I am concerned, until teachers get a pay raise!”
  • Board Member Ken Kinnear:“The case for public education is a righteous cause. Funding public ed is not a school bd. Issue. It’s not a superintendent issue. Our lawmakers should see wisdom now and not test our teachers’ resolve. Do not miss the April 1 deadline.”