A Warning to Oklahoma Teachers Regarding the Oklahoma Teacher Walkouts

The various letters and declarations of OK Public School districts “backing” teachers, so far as I’ve seen, may very well be subtle manipulations intended to quell dissent without effecting meaningful change. It may be that the supervisors above teachers are attempting to “show support” to minimize the outrage teachers have against them through vague, empathetic responses. But it is at least possible that no satisfactory changes will be made.

For instance, OKCPS has issued a statement in support of teachers’ decision to walkout this month (March, 2018). But no hint of responsibility to the awful working conditions of teachers is taken by OKCPS–rather, the board simply urges the state legislature to work for change (whatever that means). The statement read, at first glance, like a non-apology letter: an anticipatory shifting of blame. I don’t assume to know exactly who exactly is responsible for the massive dysfunction in OK public schools, but something just doesn’t seem right about this statement.

Remember, this has happened before, in the early ’90s. These sorts of strikes clearly didn’t mend the ills of OK Public Schools–the complaint remains the same: awful, non-competitive pay. They had an effect, it seems, but not the effect they should have–the effect was mediocre.

Now, many schools are arranging to close for the walkouts, supposedly to show support for teachers, and to prevent students from being left with no one to watch them. But, consider that the effectiveness of a strike comes in large part from the crippling effect the walking-out of employees has on employers. Schools anticipating the walk-outs are minimizing the potential damage from the walkout, and thereby (potentially) minimizing the power of teachers’ in petition.

I would give this warning: keep being angry until all your reasonable demands are met. Do not be lulled into apathy, nor contentment, nor a false sense of camaraderie with the people supposedly leading you, until you have absolute proof that you can trust them. Do not continue to work for employers who treat you as means rather than as ends, not even “for the children”–you ultimately do them no favors by remaining in education, instead of letting a broken system break, so that it can be reborn.

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