Letter

Hello Representative Bush-

I am writing to you today to ask that you please do everything in your power to not let the state legislature deny the teachers of Oklahoma the raise and funding for which they have been fighting. A failure by the legislature to do anything beyond the $6,100 symbolic raise Governor Fallin has already approved will be a failure not only for the educators and children of Oklahoma, but for educators and children in states across the country facing similarly abysmal circumstances.

State education systems have been gutted by legislators in Oklahoma, and in states across the country. Under the direction of think-tanks like ALEC and the Heritage Foundation, legislatures like ours have long operated under the auspices of ‘cutting costs’ and ‘eliminating government waste.’ While these states have successfully cut costs, they have also put the future of their states on a deathbed.

Our public schools are serving more than 500,000 students, and these schools have done an incredible job of serving of serving them. One need look no further for evidence of a job well done than the outcry of parents across the state who are now scrambling to find a safe, welcoming, positive and educational environment to send their kids now that they cannot send their children to school.

This is impressive considering the no-win position educators have been forced into by our legislature. The reason why 71% of Oklahomans are supporting teachers is because the people of Oklahoma are tired of seeing teachers having to choose between firing librarian or firing a school nurse. We are tired of classes that are too large to support every student. We are tired of hearing about teachers forced to panhandle for school supplies. We are tired of hearing that our schools are only better than those in Mississippi. We are tired of our best teachers moving to other states. Most of all, we are tired of seeing our children pay for the failures of their elders.

Thankfully these teachers have walked out. Thankfully, these teachers are working to make a change. Thankfully, the rest of the nation is taking notice. West Virginia set the tone, and our teachers have bravely followed their lead. Now every state in the nation is watching us. We, as Oklahomans, are in an unique position. We can do what is right, and we can show the rest of the nation that we are not afraid to do what is right for our students, teachers, schools, state and future.

I’m thankful for our teacher’s willingness to show us the way. I’m thankful that our teachers are inspiring teachers in states across the country to no longer stand by as another school is wrecked by a slashed budget. I’m thankful that our teachers are inspiring teachers in states across the country to make their voices heard loud and clear whenever yet another student’s future is jeopardized by apathetic ‘leadership’ in government. I’m thankful that our teachers have given me the gifts that have allowed me to succeed in life, and I’m thankful that there are still more out there who want nothing more than to do the same for future generations of children.

If only you and your fellow legislators will act. Do all you can, and don’t send these teachers back to work without showing them what their work means to our state. Do all you can, and let teachers across the country know that there is promise for better days ahead. Do all you can, because the country is watching. How will you respond?

Sincerely,
Jonathan Merkel
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learning

the teachers here in

oklahoma,

the teachers out there

in west virginia,

the teachers out west

in arizona

are showing

all of us what

we need to see.

the trillion dollar

machine

that grinds up hope

and buys up votes

and stalls all change

can’t drive over

self-sacrificing people.

the future is bright,

not because the right,

but because of those

who stand in the way.

complicit

i want to do something

about all this.

i want to be a part of the change

that needs to happen.

i want to walk away from my job,

as much as i love it,

and devote my life to

doing something

about all this.

i want to sleep on the ground

in washington.

i want to wake up next to you,

pour you a cup of coffee,

then hold your hand

and march.

i want to stand there,

proud.

not saying a word.

holding my fist in the air.

not leaving when they

tell me to.

i want them to kick my ass

because i wouldn’t listen.

because i was doing something

about all this.

i want to share a tent with

strangers.

i want to meet all the ones

like me.

normal people

who want to do something

about all this.

i want to stand with millions

on the capitol steps.

i want to never leave until

something has been done

about all this.

months and months like that.

living like slobs, and

wholly indecent people.

 

but i can’t walk away

from this.

i have a job.

they provide insurance.

i’ve got student loans.

 

if our credit rating

gets trashed, we won’t

ever own a home.

and maybe a baby will

find us someday soon.

i’ll have to work.

plus,

our house is comfortable.

and it might be cold in

washington.

the strangers might

smell bad,

or steal,

or kill me.

when i’m doing something

about all that.

 

i can’t risk it.

tonight i’m going to

eat at a real cool spot.

it’s a trendy banh-mi place

with green-haired cashiers.

i’m not afraid of them

because they’re kindly

taking my money.

 

we get along as we

share a moment

in exchange for getting

what we each want.

 

i will keep reading the news,

though.

hopefully someone does something

about all this.