DUNCAN, Okla. - Jami Cole has been a teacher off and on for 21 years and said her salary today is not that different than what she made starting out back in 1997.
She said she’s seen a steady decline in the profession – crowded classrooms, tattered textbooks and shattered morale.
“We literally have teachers selling plasma! Can they not see how hard we are fighting?” said Cole, who is now a third grade teacher at Horace Mann Elementary in Duncan.
She extended an invitation, a challenge, a dare - call it what you will – to any lawmaker to go spend a day in her high heels and see what she does day in and day out.
“I invite any legislature to come out who thinks we just throw a worksheet at our kids and then sit at our desk with our feet propped up,” Cole said. “From the time I get here in the morning, it is hit the ground running. It’s exhausting, I’m not going to lie.”
Cole watched Monday night as legislators passed a bill she said is not good enough.
“I saw them on cellphones. I saw half the gallery empty. I saw them on iPads watching Netflix,” Cole said. “If I ran my classroom that way…”
Even Cole’s students said their teacher deserves a raise.
“I think that teachers work really hard and that they deserve and they need a raise,” said Raelyn Crow.
“I don’t think they understand how hard teachers work,” said Hannah Mullins.
Cole said no one has taken her up on her offer yet, but she’s not giving up.
She plans to be at the capitol next Monday, walking out with her fellow teachers.
“I’ve got a few names I’ve written down I’d like to chat with,” Cole said.
And, she said she will personally extend her invitation for a lawmaker to spend a day in her classroom.