OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla._Teachers in Lawton are upset on how public education is being handled in the state, and today they went to the capitol to voice their concerns.
The teachers, roughly 600 of them all wearing camo shirts representing their fight for education and the children, packed the capitol. They're upset over teacher shortages, unfunded mandates, too much emphasis on testing, and the new pension bill. They say they are overworked and stressed, and that is affecting the education the students get.
They are concerned with the stress on them and how that affects the students they teach. They say they don't have the funding to get the materials they need to prepare students for their tests so they have to spend too much time outside of the classroom finding other options to get the students ready.
In unison, the teachers at the rally chanted, "We're teachers and we're here to say! We're teachers and we're to say! One day our kids will lead the way! One day our kids will lead the way!"
Bob Whipp has been teaching in Lawton for 16 years, he's seen what has worked and what hasn't in education. He believes the over emphasis on testing is not only stressing the teachers out, but is also losing the attention of students and decreasing their desire to come to school. "There's so much competition for our kids attention nowadays. With everything on TV, with all their games everything like that. I'm not saying we don't educate them, but we do need to make it fun and make it a good place to come, and want to come to get educated at the same time."
This rally by the Lawton teachers had been planned even before another rally on pensions was also set for today. Principal Mikel Shanklin said those pensions should not be touched. "That's the only incentive that a teacher has now to go into education. There are no pay raises, there are too many unfunded mandates, there's testing stress. So why should anyone go into education?"
Chelsea Spurlin just got into teaching and said the pension does hold a lot of weight in her future as an educator. "I look at it as I am only 23 and it's like, well I have enough time to go back to school and get another degree because I don't want to teach for the rest of my life and there not be compensation for when it is my time to go."
Spurlin said pension isn't the only thing bothering the teachers; they are upset that only local representatives were in office to listen to them even when they notified all of them they'd be there today. "We took the time out of our day for them to listen and for them to not be in their office is frustrating."
Another concern is special education. Special Ed teachers felt as if their students were not even considered when common core was implemented.