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This week, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by Emily Ozment. Emily was born and raised in Lawton, Oklahoma. She is a special education teacher and lead teacher in her department for Biology and Physical Science at Eisenhower High School. Emily is participating in a grassroots effort by teachers across the state to bring funding back to the Oklahoma classroom and win a fair salary for Oklahoma teachers and education support staff. We talk to Emily about the statewide teacher walkout planned for April 2nd, placing it in the context of more than three years of political mobilization aimed at addressing the public education crisis in Oklahoma. Emily describes the dire conditions for both teachers and students, even as massive oil profits in the state are taxed at an absurdly low rate. With low wages forcing many teachers to work additional jobs, experienced teachers are fleeing the state and inadequately trained substitutes are being relied on more and more. Teachers are struggling to do their best in crumbling facilities with outdated and disintegrating textbooks, as the GOP-controlled state government has significantly decreased classroom funding. We talk about planning and preparation for April 2nd, as well as the support teachers are receiving from students, parents, and the broader community. We discuss the recent success of striking West Virginia teachers and the influence that this has had on teachers in Oklahoma, as well as teachers in other "red" states that are considering striking. Emily also talks about growing up in a deeply conservative state, and how her politics have shifted dramatically to the left as a result of what she has experienced teaching in Oklahoma.
A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.