This weekend has seen an explosion in articles and commentaries on the recent revenue failure the state of Oklahoma is experiencing. In case you haven’t heard, with the recent bust the oil and gas industry is experiencing coupled with our elected officials legislating us into a hole, our state is being forced to strip even more funding away from services that are essential to Oklahoma.
The most recent tax cut went into effect January 1st. You can use this handy dandy calculator that the Oklahoma Policy Institute developed to see how much your family will save over the course of the year.
While poring over the articles from this weekend, I came across a statement that struck me. I wish I had written down where I’d seen it. (If you recall, please inform me so that I can link it here.)
One of the elected officials made a comment that churches and other nonprofits would have to step up to help out. This was one of those statements that struck me as odd and then continued to stay with me. I keep coming back to it.
At the beginning of the school year, a couple of the local churches donated school supplies to ALL of our students. Everything on the list was purchased. One church spent upwards of $25,000 on our 700+ students so they could have all the supplies they’d need at the start of the year. They spent $25,000 so that teachers wouldn’t have to make up the gap for those students will never be able to bring supplies. These churches collected money from their congregations – our former, current, and future patrons – and redistributed that money in an effort to reinforce the commitment to public education. This is something our elected officials are continually ignoring.
I know what the churches are doing. I also know that non-profits usually have some sort of grant process to award money for projects and supplies. I have received local grants as well as crowd-sourced grants from DonorsChoose.org. The problem with these is that they need careful pre-planning – which can be done. But when you have an immediate need that arises, these sorts of resources are often not very much use.
This is why teachers dive into our own pockets. Continually.
We are not asking for enough money to have a big screen tv, stand up desks, one to one devices, brand new furniture every time we move to a new room, new playground equipment when our population grows – no, we are asking for enough money to ensure that when the basketballs from the gym won’t hold air, we can purchase new ones. We are asking that when we want to enter our students into a robotics competition, we don’t have to sell candy to do it. We are asking for hot water in the staff restroom because the hallways aren’t heated and in the winter, it makes it unbearable to wash your hands. We are asking for the ability to put tornado shelters in all our schools because our children are that important.
No, it is not time to pass the buck on to churches and nonprofits. It’s not the time to rely on those that work in the schools to put even more of our hard earned money back into them. No, it is high time for our state government, our ELECTED officials to step up and own this.
Tomorrow, I will be writing my check to the school where I teach. I will, once again, #GiveItBackOK to my state. This is my choice of protest.