WV teacher strike helped spark similar movements in Oklahoma, beyond
By Maria Young Staff writer
Weeks before Oklahoma teachers launched a statewide strike on April 2, many were watching the actions of their counterparts in West Virginia as the protests played out on national media.
“I was kind of shocked, because it seemed to me that they weren’t asking for too much. It made me open my eyes,” said Jessica Lightle, an alternative education teacher at Puterbaugh Middle School, in McAlester, Oklahoma.
Around the time the West Virginia strike wrapped up — and led to a 5 percent bump in pay for teachers and other state employees — Alberto Morejon, a teacher in Stillwater, Oklahoma, created The Time Is Now, a Facebook page calling for teachers in his own state to walk out. His post went viral, and, within a matter of days, there were tens of thousands of members on the page, including Lightle, who has relatives in Charleston and closely watched the action here.
“I just thought, ‘We need to follow their example and recognize the power that we have.’ I think that’s the real message. This education system is in our hands, and West Virginia showed us that we could fight for it and win.”