Guymon teachers to participate in walkout next week despite pay raise

Guymon teachers to participate in walkout next week despite pay raise
Source: Lisa Wilson
Source: Lisa Wilson
Source: Lisa Wilson
Source: Lisa Wilson
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

GUYMON, OK - Behind closed doors, teachers in the Guymon Public School district decided they will participate in the state-wide teacher walkout on Monday.

Educators like music teacher Steve Lehew said they hope to set an example for their students as well as put education back in the spotlight.

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"Lawmakers, I want you to make education a priority," said Lehew.

Governor Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1010XX into law today, which was described as "the largest teacher pay raise in the history of the state."

However Guymon teachers said it's not enough

"It would cover the very minimal in the amount of textbooks per child," said Lehew. "We can't keep taking away from the funding side and expect Oklahoma to be okay."

To gauge how teachers were feeling about the new legislation, Guymon Public Schools had a vote today to see if a walkout was still necessary.

"146 voted to participate in the walkout and 43 voted to stay," said Jimmy Acevedo, director of alternative education. "So it was an overwhelming amount of people that still want to participate in this walkout which is significant for a small western town in Oklahoma."

Whether it's making do with what they have...

"We've had the same textbooks for six to eight years," said Lehew.

Or making sacrifices of their own...

"[One teacher is] a fifth grade science teacher and she's spent over a thousand dollars out of her own pocket just to be able to do science experiments," said Acevedo.

Guymon teachers said they're doing everything they can to ensure quality education of their students.

According to the National Education Association, Oklahoma is ranked 49th in teacher salaries, however teachers here in Guymon said it's not just about the money, it's about the students.

"By far and large, I've seen more teachers concerned about funding for Oklahoma schools," said Acevedo. "We're going to hear that a lot because it's true. These teachers, we are in the trenches, we are in the day to day involvement with these kids, and we know what these kids need and we also know how far we've gone without that funding."

And with every sign painted, every teacher hopes to be taken seriously in a walkout at the state capitol.

"I would just like to see them fund what's been taken away for so many years," said Lehew. "Let our kids know it's important."

Acevedo said 65 Guymon teachers have committed to demonstrating at the capitol on Monday, while some will stand in solidarity at Guymon public schools.

With Monday being a holiday, the superintendent is currently deciding on whether they will suspend classes on Tuesday as well.

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