Tulsa teacher Suzanne Call traveled more than 200 miles roundtrip to join her colleagues at the Capitol in Oklahoma City, Okla., for the last two days.
“This experience has been such a whirlwind of emotions from being angry and defeated to being optimistic and proud,” Call says. “The turnout at the Capitol has been remarkable.”
There has been so many teachers and other supporters, she says, that she hasn’t been able to get in to speak with her own legislators.
“Being able to see not only fellow educators but parents and children there to give support is awe-striking,” Call says. “For every 10 cars that drive by, nine are honking, waving, and giving a thumbs up in support of teachers. Support for education hasn't always been prevalent in Oklahoma so hearing that simple car horn means more than words could explain.”
Call, who has been teaching for five years, says things have gotten more difficult every year of her career. “My closest friend is an art educator and her yearly budget comes out to 83 cents per student.”
Call says that the support they are feeling from across the state and the nation is overwhelming and appreciated. They are feeling resolute. “We know the world is watching and we will do what it takes to get what our students need,” she says.
Last month West Virginia educators walked out in every one of the state’s 55 counties for nine days, forcing reluctant state lawmakers to invest in teacher pay and commit to reducing health insurance costs. Call, along with thousands of educators in Oklahoma, walked out of schools April 2 to protest education funding and low pay. Arizona educators are also considering a walkout. We’ve been hearing personal stories this week from our colleagues in Oklahoma. Meet Deborah Miller, a Tulsa school psychologist, and read why she is actively participating in the walkout.