They Still Don’t Get It — Teachers Can’t be Bought

SBE, board of education school schools
Oklahoma State Board Board of Education Meeting in July

Eleven days out from the election and the all-Republican, Fallin-hand-picked Oklahoma State Board of Education is a model of affability.

Wow! They are so nice!

Yesterday they agreed to put in a request to the next legislature for increasing the education budget including a $2,500 pay raise for teachers.

They also agreed to backdate some certifications after saying earlier this year that they would start enforcing a 1990s law — not enforced before — that wouldn’t allow it backdating to this extent.

They, and Barresi, had some glowing things to say about teachers, too. How about that? That’s something, isn’t it? Hmmmmm…..

It’s like they were saying: See, thing’s are just great! Ya’ll should just go ahead and vote for Fallin for another four more years so that she can re-appoint us.

Worried in Oklahoma

No doubt they have received the word from worried Oklahoma Republican elites to be on their best behavior so as not to stir up the rabble.

Sorry, the damage is done. We are already stirred up. It’s what you get for thinking the way people talk at the country club.

State public school honcho Janet Barresi was supposed to be sailing into another four years, as was Governor Fallin, both Republicans in a deep red state, and a real team until Barresi became so politically toxic. But Barresi was humiliated in the Republican primary and Populist Democrat Joe Dorman is knocking on Fallin’s door in a tough race for governor that nobody expected even this time last year.

Is it a raise?

That $2,500 is only a “raise” in dollars and cents. Minutes after yesterday’s board meeting was over, some teachers were already asking if it’s a pay raise with the extra five days added, and moving extracurriculars out of the school day. More work, a little more pay.

And this does not actually mean a raise, only that they will ask for one. They will make that request, as they have in the past, with a wink to a legislature that only wants to cut the state budget more as they hand out favors and tax breaks to their wealthy donors.

It’s the hubris of Barresi and the elites on the Board that makes us raise our actual eyebrows more than Fallin had her left one painted on in the only debate she had with Dorman.

They still don’t get it

Reformists still stubbornly believe that teachers can be bought. It’s amazing. And it is the same contempt for education and educators that we have seen before. It caused right-wing elites to spend big money to push in a dentist for superintendent. It’s the idea that you can throw a few dollars at teachers and they will settle down.

People who have not dreamed of teaching and then taught for years just don’t get it. They think that more money can make us do things differently or change our motivations.

We only ask for more money sometimes so that we don’t have to work a second job mowing lawns, or at a clothing store, or delivering pizzas late into school nights to make ends meet. I actually did all of those things, by the way. It was when I had one of those lucrative “union” contracts that others are supposed to resent us for having.

We want more pay so that we can afford to spend all Summer going to conferences that help us get better at teaching our students. We want more pay because we want to spend our evenings and weekends reading the latest books on teaching so that we can get better at teaching our students.

Committed, long-term teachers don’t teach for money. If we did, then we could be bought.

We teach because we love it. We teach because we can’t imagine much else. We rally, write, speak, and vote to make sure that our students get the education that they deserve.

The arrogant SBE and Barresi shouldn’t waste their time trying to act nice eleven days before the election.

We aren’t stupid. We know better. Get out of the way.