Steven Wedel teaches high school English in Oklahoma City, and in a blog post that's gone viral, he describes the tough lives many of his students lead. "Over 90% of the kids in my high school are on the free or reduced lunch programs," he writes. "[They] walk hand-in-hand with Poverty and its brother Violence. They find comfort in the arms of your lover, Addiction. They make babies before they are old enough to vote. Or drive. And they continue the cycle you put them in." He talks about his attempts to encourage his students, many of whom are reluctant to go home after the school day ends, giving them food if they need it or urging them to focus on their education in an attempt to break the cycle. Lawmakers contribute to the problem, he writes, noting that he has two college degrees, has taught for 10 years, has won Teacher of the Year, and yet still makes $18,000 less per year than he did when he was an office worker for an energy company.
"You whittle away at education funding. You waste the taxpayers’ money so that our great state faces unbelievable shortfalls and massive budget cuts. You take home a salary that ranks 10th highest in the nation among state legislators and you are inept," he writes. He notes that, thanks to those budget cuts, students who want to stay at school late will no longer be able to after spring break this year, when the school does away with late buses. "You, the representatives, senators, and governor of Oklahoma are creating a population of ignorant peasants fit only to work in the oil field and factories you bring to this state by promising those businesses won’t have to pay their fair share of taxes. You leave our kids in a cycle of poverty and abuse while your pet donor oil companies destroy the bedrock beneath us." He urges parents to vote for lawmakers who value education. Read his full post here. (Read more education stories.)