Is it possible that the threat of a walkout on Monday has spurred lawmakers to action? It is, and we applaud the Oklahoma Education Association for sticking to its guns.
That’s the other topic gaining grass-roots momentum, as students on Sunday marched in Washington and other cities, pushing for weapons reform.
Those two events have a lot in common. For a decade or more, the state Legislature has ignored teachers and state employees. With even a moderate 2.2-percent inflation rate, a teacher or state employee who was earning $40,000 in 2007 would have to make $48,000 today just to break even. By never adjusting the salary, the message to those employees is clear: You’re worth less to us than you were last year. Your value is in decline.
That’s not appreciating Oklahoma’s teachers – it’s depreciating them.
News reports, personal stories, and rallies at the Capitol all failed to motivate legislative action. But apparently, the threat of 500,000 students having nowhere to go next week has at long last lit a fuse.
Meanwhile, as the adults spend their time posturing about either the need to reform weapons laws or their rights to all the weapons they can carry under the Second Amendment, America’s children are telling the government that continued inaction in the wake of another mass shooting is unacceptable. This time they seem a little more determined to not let the message die.
The weaponry debate need not be all-or-nothing. We already allow most law-abiding citizens to own most kinds of guns. We also already have some limits. The argument can’t be about whether there should be a line, it must be about where that line should be.
In the same way that teachers are closing on in forcing changes in Oklahoma’s pay scale, students might be closing in on effecting changes to curtail mass murders.
To motivate lawmakers, teachers have moved from rallies to walkouts. Students have moved from complacency to rallies. And in Oklahoma, the third leg of that stool is what will happen when prisoners decide that they too are fed up with inaction.
This much is certain: There won’t be a rally at the Capitol and there won’t be a walkout.