OKLAHOMA CITY – In 1979, Jim McGinley, a teacher at Oklahoma City Public Schools, went on strike for higher pay, and to protest against the lack of educational materials and poor building conditions.
A black and white photo shows him with a proud look and his shirt’s sleeves rolled up while holding a sign which reads, “Teachers want a fair shake – we mean it!”
Almost 40 years later, his daughter Marissa, who has followed her dad’s footstep and become a fourth-grade teacher at Coronado Heights Elementary, in a suburb of Oklahoma City, is on a walkout this week — and for very similar reasons.
“I grew up always hearing about how my dad went on strike in 1979,” McGinley, who is in her fifth year of teaching, told CNN. “He’d always say how he ‘Walked the (picket) line in ’79’. I knew at a young age that he stood up for what he believed in.”
“The similarities are astounding because not only are we in dire need of a teacher pay raise, we are also fighting for school funding,” the 28-year-old continues.
“We have overcrowded classrooms, outdated materials, lack of materials and we are held to a higher standard each year. We are expected to do so much with so little funding and resources.”
The elder McGinley and the other 1,000 teachers who protested in 1979 eventually obtained a 9% pay raise. Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that raises teachers’ salaries by an average of $6,100, but the state teachers’ union said that is not enough.
The elder McGinley and his wife — also a teacher — eventually had to leave their beloved profession because their salary combined could not support their family.
“That’s still the case today. Couples that are both teachers have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet,” Marissa McGinley said.
Jim McGinley died in 2016.
His daughter recalls when she uncovered her dad’s black and white photo in 2013, while student teaching.
“I ran across that photo and was astounded by it! I use it every year to teach civics to my class. Now I have the opportunity and responsibility to follow in his footsteps. It’s such a privilege and I am honored to fight the good fight.”