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SALLISAW, Okla. – Teachers across Oklahoma have been fighting for increased educational funding for days, and now many are sharing personal experiences to help send a message to lawmakers.
Last month, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it was seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees, and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.
Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that raises teachers’ salaries by an average of $6,100. It also gives $1,250 raises for support staff and adds $50 million in education funding.
However, many teachers said education funding was severely lacking in the measure.
After spending three days with lawmakers, some educators spoke at the podium to send a clear message about education funding.
On Wednesday, an Oklahoma school superintendent’s speech pulled at the heartstrings of many in the crowd.
Sallisaw Schools Superintendent Scott Farmer said he was forced to make a difficult choice: buy new text books for the district or get Braille lessons for a 7-year-old student.
“I felt shameful that it was tough as a superintendent to try to make a decision to spend more money on everyone else’s textbooks, or do I give her more than two hours a month of Braille lessons?” Farmer said.
The 7-year-old student just happened to be Farmer’s daughter, Jessie, according to KJRH.
“I know firsthand how hard it is for families to come to grips with the fact that they’re not getting the resources they need in their schools because Jessie is my daughter,” he added.
His speech highlighted why teachers are fighting to fund core programs like textbooks and student assistance programs.
“We shouldn’t be having to choose between care for children that need it and new school buses or new math books,” said Taren Madding, a teacher in Sallisaw.