To begin with, I wanted to be known that I support education, full funding of the classroom, and an increase in teachers’ pay to bring us (the state of Oklahoma) from the bottom of the heap to at least equal to if not higher than the surrounding states. Education system in Oklahoma has long sense lacked proper funds. We rank 49th in the US for teacher salary. Which is sadly inadequate and has caused many quality educators to leave the state for the surrounding states, Texas being the biggest recipient, due to that low pay. Having stated my support for education I now have to say to the OEA, enough is enough. You called for a walk out with a list of demands that the legislature worked hard to meet. With landmark legislation raising taxes (sadly that it had to come to that title of landmark) the first thing they did was to pass a raise in pay. You asked for $10,000 a year, you are not satisfied with $6000 a year to begin with. Other legislation was passed to fully fund the raises unlike previous years where raises were given but never funded. But that still wasn’t enough for you to go back to the classroom. Now you demanded that all cutbacks in education were to be restored. You demand that the legislature restore the five-dollar tax on hotel stays to fund the classroom. You demand the elimination of the capital gains tax exemption. Your President has appeared on Facebook live giving the appearance of an angry person, demanding every need be met immediately. Her comments at the capital continue to make it look like the teacher’s union, OEA, is more interested in money then in education. I know this is not true, teachers are tired of being lied to by politicians that run on the principle of fixing the educational system yet failing to do so. When verbalizing my discussed with the continued walk out to a retired teacher of 40 years tenure, I was lectured that had she been able to she would have been at the capital with her peers. She was there in 1990 that got House Bill 1017 past but was unable to be there this time. She then told me that I shouldn’t blame the teachers for their actions when the disparity in pay is enormous. “It is amazing that we are 49th in the US in teacher salary, but 15th in the US for the salary of our legislators”. With that bit of information, I rethought my position, and began to look at the whole picture again. The title of this piece, When the Tail Wags the Dog, comes from the idea that a union should tell the legislative body of a state or of the US government how to do its job. The same analogy can be used in how insurance companies are successfully telling physicians how to practice medicine. It doesn’t work, and it actually causes more problems and increases costs while decreasing quality. Another issue is for the teachers to understand that their walkout was successful to a point, they are now approaching a point where the educational system will begin to lose federal funds, students will miss state testing deadlines, and the school year will be in jeopardy. Seniors in high school expected to graduate on time but now that may be delayed. This phrase was used on the steps of the state capital day after day after day “enough is enough”. Teachers the legislators have heard you, the public supports you, now it’s time to go back to work and do what you do best which is educate. Legislators it’s up to you to do the job that you were elected to do, you are public servants, you are no different in your profession as the teachers are in their profession! It’s high time that you start acting like a public servant more than an elitist. You were elected to do a job, you politicize the process pointing fingers across the aisle on both sides, were I grading your performance over the past 20 years I’m afraid I would have to give it an F minus. State legislators, it’s time to do what is right. Fully fund education here on out. Failure to do so will cause you to lose your jobs. Midterm elections are coming, and the movement is spreading. To our elected officials in the US government, I say the same thing. Get it done right. Quit playing petty politics with the security of our nation, balance the budget and reform the healthcare system. You want to find extra money to help balance the budget consider taking a pay cut, paying for your own health care, paying for your own retirement. And the state and federal entitlement programs to legislators. Folks you’re no better than the rest of us!
For those of you reading this, you can agree or disagree with my opinion because that is your right. It is however my opinion, and I am allowed to express it. Feel free to comment for that is your right.