Help keep good teachers in the classroom
BY LYNN STOCKLEY
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
4/18/12 at 2:31 AM
As president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association and a 40-year educator in Tulsa Public Schools, I am asking everyone to get involved and contact their legislators about the current funding crisis that we are experiencing in Tulsa Public Schools.
Teachers are the single most important factor in determining a student's success in the classroom. We agree that there must be an effective teacher in every classroom and we have worked to collaborate with the district on accountability standards which assure that happens.
It is about the students, and our teachers in Tulsa Public Schools are dedicated to educating them. Teachers are in the classroom because they have a heart for students and want to see those students become successful, life-long learners.
So, how do we keep good teachers in the classroom? We give them support to help them be successful. We don't continue to increase class sizes. If we want students to receive individual attention, we cannot have 40 sixth-grade students in one classroom.
If you want students to be college-, citizenship- and career-ready, you provide them with a curriculum that not only helps them perform the essential reading and math skills, but also provides athletics and the arts, which might be the flame that catches their interest and spurs them on to continuing their education. You don't eliminate orchestra, swimming or Spanish IV.
For the last few years, funding for education in the state of Oklahoma has continued to decline. Revenues for the state have gradually increased and at the same time, a smaller percentage of the budget is awarded to education.
So, in Tulsa, that means fewer teachers in the classroom, with a higher student-teacher ratio. And how have the teachers responded? They continue to teach. Why aren't people screaming about this situation? Because the teachers have continued to do their jobs and teach the students.
They work longer hours to grade more papers because they have more students. They spend less time with their own families because of the responsibilities that teaching requires. The stress level for teachers is up and more and more young teachers are deciding not to stay in the profession and more experienced teachers are calling it quits. Is that what we want? How does that bode for the future?
The time for action in now! Teachers, principals, administrators, school board members, parents and community members all agree that public education is what will make the difference in the future of the state of Oklahoma and it is the duty of the legislators to fund education at a level that will ensure teachers have the resources they need to help ensure the success of the students.
I urge everyone to contact their legislators and tell them the future of Oklahoma depends on the success of our students and that success depends on keeping our highly qualified teachers and leaders in the classroom. An excellent education, every day, for every child, without exception, cannot happen without the teacher in the classroom. Please support your teachers and send a message to your legislators, now.
Lynn Stockley is president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.
Teacher Jennifer Howland leads a group discussion of the civil-rights era at Memorial High School in Tulsa. Upcoming budget cuts could lead to larger class sizes in Howland's advanced placement classes. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file
Lynn Stockley: "It is the duty of the legislators to fund education at a level that will ensure teachers have the resources they need ..."