On Feb. 28, high school track coach and government teacher Bon Bennett stepped up to the microphone at the community center in Bartlesville, Okla., as hundreds of parents, students and teachers sat rapt in attention.
An education crisis was brewing across Oklahoma, and the district’s school board had called a special meeting to hear from the community. By some measures, Oklahoma’s teachers are the lowest-paid in the nation, and Bennett drew the audience’s attention to the massive statewide teachers strike that had just launched in West Virginia.
“Now let’s just take one second and digest that. West Virginia teachers walked out — and they make more than us!” Bennett said, his voice rising, according to a video of the meeting. “West Virginia!”