There’s not many things in this world that can bring Cowboys and Sooners together. But finally, we’ve found something to unite both sides.
Top personalities from both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State brought support for the ongoing teacher’s strike in the state of Oklahoma. Teachers are heading into their fifth day marching on the state capital in search of higher pay and better resources.
“I’m 100 percent behind our educators,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “I have always felt like the educators in this state are way overworked and way underpaid.”
Considering that Gundy is the state’s highest-paid employee — and one of the most beloved — his voice carries some extra weight.
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, the son of an educator, spoke to his experience watching his dad try to raise a family while balancing being a teacher. Legendary coach Bob Stoops saw the same thing.
“Its’s kind of hard to believe that my family grew up, six kids, on a teacher’s salary,” Stoops said. “My dad had five different jobs. It’s hard, but he died at 53 … I’m not gonna say that’s what killed him, but if you raise six kids on a teacher’s salary, you’re going to have to do a lot of different things.”
Support has not stopped at just the coaches. Oklahoma point guard Trae Young took to Twitter with a picture of himself in a shirt that said “Support Our Schools.” Young graduated from Norman North High School and grew up in the Oklahoma state education system.
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) April 5, 2018
Oklahoma teachers rank No. 50 in average salary nationally at $42,460. That ranks nearly $16,000 below the national median annual wage of $58,030, according to KFOR-TV.
Average starting teaching salary in the state is $31,919, per the National Education Association. That plays a role in an 11 percent annual turnover rate. The issue does not stop with just salaries. Oklahoma spends $7,672 per student, which ranks No. 47 in the nation.
“Any time we have people who are tied into our children for six to eight hours a day, we should try to facilitate them,” Gundy said. “Get them the facilities and do everything we can to make sure that they can do the jobs the best way possible.”
As part of the strike, 200 of the state’s 550 school districts are closed. As many as 30,000 educators have converged on Oklahoma City in protest.
Oklahoma legislators passed a small tax hike to fund moderate increases in teacher salaries. However, it’s far less than what the teachers have asked for throughout the process. For that reason, school districts in almost all of the state’s biggest cities will remain closed at least through the week.
“We need talented people teaching these kids,” Stoops said. “It seems like there’s got to be a better way to supplement in some way that it came to something like this.”
Teachers will have to deal with public backlash as a result of their strike. However, gaining support from some of the state’s most beloved sports personalities will certainly help.