In case you have not heard the state of Oklahoma, my state, is in a bit of crisis. I have joined tens of thousands of other educators in descending upon our state capitol to march in protest over the lack of proper education funding. I am going to share some reflections of this process each day here.
You can see precious days reflections here:
I started my day at 5:00 AM today. I got up, made coffee, packed my briefcase and laptop bag, then I put those items, my suit, tie, and dress shoes along with my kids’ backpacks and dance bag and t-ball bag in my car. Then I quietly got ready and dressed, woke up my three kids. I quietly loaded them into the van and off to my parents for the day. My wife stayed home sick today. After dropping off the kids I drove to the Oklahoma State Capitol. On the drive, I used talk-to-text to send some emails planning a free training event for financial literacy educators this summer (because even if the legislature is not doing their job I still have one to do!). I arrived at the Capitol around 7, parked a few blocks away and walked up and into the building. Maybe at least once this week I will walk through security without setting off the detector.
My day at the Capitol was fairly uneventful. I visited and bonded with other teachers from my school and saw some of my students. That is about all I did. I was not able to see any legislators. I am not sure why, neither the House nor the Senate really did anything today. So I stood outside and encouraged and uplifted those in this fight with me. I got sunburned, enjoyed some amazing Greek food from a food truck, and that was my day there. When I left the Capitol my day was only really half over. I went from there to a Starbucks to charge my phone and check emails. While there I was able to follow up about a pending grant because again my work has to keep going forward. While I drank my Frappuccino I also learned games were afoot in the Senate.
The Senate has been the great hope to end this walkout the past 24 hours. But while I let my phone charge at Starbucks I learned my Senator had resigned from the chairmanship he held over a subcommittee, the education subcommittee of the appropriations committee. He is a Republican and he cited differences in views, opinions, and needs with the GOP caucus and leadership in the Senate. He is PRO EDUCATION!!! So if his views are at odds with the caucus and leadership then that tells me the end is not in sight.
After finishing my delicious frozen coffee and caramel beverage I put my tie on, exchanged my jeans for suit pants, and traded my worn out chucks for dress shoes. I then drove to the local Federal Reserve Bank for an event honoring this year’s Student Board of Directors. It was a great event with wonderful food, great conversation, an inspiring speaker, and deserving student honorees. It was a great respite from the craziness of the rest of my week.
As I walked through the parking garage underneath their offices to return to my car my anger rose. I am mad! I am beyond mad! I am giving my all. I am still connecting with my students, even on the lawn of the Capitol building. I am planning training events that will cost the teachers and host agencies nothing because the state slashed the budget for Personal Financial Literacy programs to 0 during the last budget crisis in 2016. I am stealing moments from my day to obtain grants for my classroom because the state refuses to provide. I am working 15+ hour days even during the walkout and the legislators cannot even give us 5 minutes. My representative scheduled a meeting with my wife and me for tomorrow…30 MINUTES AFTER THEIR SESSIONS STARTS! He won’t be in his office. He has to be on the floor. I am going to give probably over 16 hours today before it is finished (I pulled off at another Starbucks to get this post down because of the indignation rising inside me as I drove). Yet my Rep cannot be bothered to schedule a real meeting with me?
I am mad! And I am here to stay until this fight is over, because my students deserve it, because my colleagues deserve it, and because my own children deserve it. I am doing my job. Oklahoma Legislature when are you going to do yours???