It has certainly been an eventful week both here in Oklahoma and throughout our country. On Tuesday, we went to the polls and exercised the fundamental right and responsibility of voting. While our state ballot included questions on a number of important issues, the penny sales tax proposed by state question 779 had the potential to benefit every teacher and student in Oklahoma. This tax would have created a new permanent revenue stream to give each of our teachers a $5,000 pay increase and generate an estimated $25 million for education in Tulsa. The proposal was an opportunity to begin to lessen the financial difficulties that Oklahoma teachers face every day. Unfortunately, as you know, by late Tuesday evening it became clear that the majority of Oklahomans voted against the proposed sales tax.
I am fortunate to have many opportunities to talk to community members about public education, and time and time again, I hear stories of transformational teachers and school communities that feel like families. Oklahomans value educators – they know that great teachers change lives.
In a state where it is common for professional educators to work second and third jobs and still struggle to make ends meet, it is well past time to fix the ongoing problem of Oklahoma’s teacher salaries. The conversation about doing right by our teachers did not end with state question 779. This fight is not over, and I will do everything I can to keep this critical issue in front of our legislators. I hope you will join me in calling on our state leaders to find a sustainable solution to improve public education funding and pay our teachers the salaries they deserve.
As a district, we mirror the country in diversity of opinion and political leanings, but I know that we are united in our commitment to serving the best interests of Tulsa students and families. I am so grateful for all that you do, and I am proud that we are on this bold journey to Destination Excellence together.