A New Day (poem for #oklaed)

Do you want to know what it’s like to be a teacher?
It’s like any other desk job really,
minus the actual sitting at a desk.
Seven hours of daily meetings arranged the previous evening
You want to know what it’s like to be a teacher in Oklahoma?
It’s the hardest job with (almost) the lowest pay
performed inside a glass case suspended above the Oklahoma House floor.
“And now you’re going to come here and act like this after you got a raise.
Go right ahead.”
McDugle hasn’t seen the beginning of how we can act.

There is a clear blue sky on the Oklahoma political horizon,
but many teachers still close their eyes and see only red.
In Oklahoma, smaller government means larger class sizes.
And “801” means “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
No Mary, we don’t want a “better car.”
We just want an oil change every 10,000 students.
The problem with electing teachers is they have to quit teaching.
The problem with teaching the elected is they don’t want to know.
And the problem with Calvey was, well, everything.

I think if Howard Zinn were here he would say,
“You can’t be neutral in an Oklahoma classroom.”
I think if Taylor Mali were here he would say
that Oklahoma teachers make a goddamn difference.
And I think if Dee Snider were here he would sing,
“We’re not gonna take it. No, we ain’t gonna take it!”

We have successfully turned the racism of right-to-work
into the realism of strength-to-kick-ass.
There are seeds of an Oklahoma Socialist revival
germinating in the rich soil of progressive #oklaed.
We have Supers who realize the value of collective action.
We have innovations without charters,
partnerships without corporations,
and opportunities without vouchers.
We have #oklegs who know you can’t be both pro-education and anti-revenue.

You want to know what it feels like to be a teacher in Oklahoma?
It feels like the best job, in the best place, at the best time.
It feels like the confidence of knowing my great-grandkids
will learn about our movement in history class.
It feels like that moment immediately before dawn
when everything goes quiet, but only for a moment.
And then, the wind will come sweeping down the plains,
everything will come to life,
and it will become clear to all that a new day has come.

A new day for Oklahoma’s public schools!


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