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Sylvia Chandler

By Dr. Sylvia Chandler 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

My truth about education started when my mom moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma from Tyler, Texas in 1971 to work for Tulsa Public Schools as a social studies teacher. When she moved to Tulsa, she had my brother with her and lived with roommates. 

There was a time period when she was on food stamps. She was bringing home $500.00 a month to support herself and my brother. There were times when she really didn’t have any food in the house. The potatoes that she did have had to last until she got paid again. Keep in mind, she was feeding herself and my brother on a teacher’s salary.

My mom wrote an article for the Tulsa World in the 1970s regarding teacher pay and the need for teachers to receive adequate pay. She struggled from 1971-1979 to support her family. 

Let’s fast forward 47 years. It is now 2018 and we are still talking about adequate pay for teachers. I am a second generation educator and I work two to three jobs at times to make ends meet. In order for me to hold my current position, I needed a Master’s degree and it cost me a pretty penny.

However when I graduated and started work as a counselor, the amount of money I earn is not sufficient to pay my bills—including my student loans.  I have to work two to three jobs to make it and I am certainly not the only educator that does.


My pay does not reflect my educational level or experience. Each year, more and more is expected of us but with fewer resources. We are still discussing teacher pay 47 years later. 

This is a problem. My mom went on strike in 1990 over teacher pay and now, today she stands with me and my twin for the same reason.

We say, “Enough is enough!!” 

We work hard every day for our students and our parents.

We work for free and during our breaks to ensure that our students have the necessary lessons and materials for class. Let’s not even look at the amount of money that we pay out of our own pockets to supply supplies for our classrooms, offices, and students.

Teachers today keep pouring ourselves into our classrooms even when it takes something away from our own families. That is a sacrifice that we make. We should be more valued than what we are. 

Educators are charged with one of the most important jobs, to educate our future leaders.

Dr. Tina Boogren says that “teachers make more minute by minute decisions than a brain surgeon does and that is why you’re going home so exhausted each day”. And yet our first year legislators make more money for a four month session than someone who has been teaching for thirteen years and has a bachelor’s degree. We can’t stand for that.

If we keep this up, the State of Oklahoma will continue to lose great educators to other states and keep offering emergency certifications pretty much anyone because we need teachers to staff our school. 

The time is now to make a change. 

“One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”  

Malala Yousafzai

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...