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 am pissed! I do not make a habit out of using vulgar language on my site, but I do not know any other way to state how I am feeling. No other word quite captures the totality of my emotions today. I go on Facebook. I go on Twitter. I watch local news. I watch national news. I listen to this legislator talk. I listen to this other legislator talk. The message is different everywhere you turn! Oklahoma education is in a state of total disarray. Today we match West Virginia for the length of the walkout. Tomorrow we pass them. Will the movement die before tomorrow? Quite possibly. One could also ask – hasn’t it been dead and doomed from the beginning? Again, quite possibly.
This is the reason for my current ire. We were not ready for the past 9 days two weeks ago. We still are not ready. We were not organized. Our voices and our demands were not unified. This previous Monday the crowd at the state Capitol was massive, it is estimated some 50,000 were there. While this number is impressive, we must also recognize that, given the current state of affairs, this means there were potentially 50,000 different ideas and opinions of what should happen.
I teach History. Labor and union history is quite possibly my overall favorite topic to study, teach, read about, and discuss. It fascinates me. When I take my knowledge of that and compare it to the current situation in Oklahoma I am astonished. I am going to try to soften my words here but to put it bluntly our education union leadership in Oklahoma is weak at best and an utter failure at worst.
There was no real, sincere, or significant effort to understand the desires and motivators for the membership going into the past two weeks. When this is not done then the current quagmire of exit strategy/end game is inevitable. Now some local groups, my personal association of classroom teachers included, have done a superb job here, but this has not happened at a state level. There has been no understanding of the nature of a job action. We have gone into this with our leadership reacting to things happening outside of their circle instead of leading or driving the effort. There has been no real attempt to understand the historical nature of what is happening. A job action, such as the one we are in the midst of, is only effective if rarely used. This is a generational thing and when employed must be used to get the demands. Instead of this being realized, we are on the precipice of walking away with less than what we started with, thanks to the already repeal of parts of the funding. This has been a disaster rather than a cause for celebration.
I have thoughts about what should happen next, to see those, tune-in tomorrow.