When 6-year-old Blake Shelton went to school in 1982, the future superstar was given an almost brand-new textbook to learn from. More than 35 years later, that same book made its way to a first grader in 2018.
Marley Parker, 7, discovered her assigned textbook belonged to Oklahoma-born Shelton when she went to add her own name to the front of the book. She was excited that she had a connection to country music singer and The Voice star. However, her mom, Shelly Bryan Parker, decidedly did not feel the same way.
In a now viral post, Parker wrote, “Marley is EXCITED that her ‘new’ reader belonged to Blake Shelton, but I am EMBARRASSED!!!! I’m 40 and these people are my age!!”
Her “embarrassment” comes in due to issues plaguing the Oklahoma public school system, which have culminated in a teacher walkout. Parker added, “Thank you to every teacher/parent/support staffer/etc. for fighting for my kids education!!! Don’t give up until education is FULLY FUNDED!!!!”
Examples like this have quickly added momentum to the Oklahoma teacher strike. Hundreds of teachers have packed the state Capitol in the past week protesting for more funding for their schools’ facilities, equipment, and textbooks that are run-down, outdated, and in short supply.
Parker and her husband are both former teachers, she tells Yahoo Lifestyle she just wants people to understand how bad her home state’s education system is.
“It’s like we are fighting against our own, I know people don’t want their taxes to be raised. But we all need to come together to help out children have the best education they possibly can.”
A post shared by Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) on Mar 13, 2018 at 3:02pm PDT
“Teachers have had enough, Marley is so fortunate to have amazing teachers but they need the resources to be able to teach and worthy salaries.”
Shelton’s former book is part of the first-grade class assigned curriculum. Marley has to read from it every night. Parker wants to clarify that it’s not the fact that this specific book is 40-years-old but it’s about what it represents: “Outdated supplies, lack of funding for innovative educational tools.”
“The book is considered one of our treasures she says, it’s in good shape but not many others are,” she says.
Shelton’s old book has become another symbol of the lack of funding for new supplies that teachers and students have had to deal with, like a scarce number of broken chairs for students while many are trying to learn while sitting on a classroom floor.
For more than 26 years, Oklahoma’s public education system has been defunded by repeated tax cuts. Teacher salaries are so low, it has sparked an educator mass exodus to other states, like Texas, where teachers earn thousands of more dollars per year. The downside to this has been the increase of students per class, which lowers the quality of student-teacher interaction.
Teachers are now demanding the state boost pay by 20 percent and return to pre-recession funding levels for education.
Comments on the post, which has been shared over 7,000 times at the time of this story, were primarily supportive.
“As a teacher, I’m surprised at the support people are giving old materials. Teaching methods, standards, and curriculum should and (hopefully) does improve through the years,” wrote one. A textbook from 35 years belongs in a museum!”
But some don’t understand why it matters how old a reading book is, with one writing, “I’m not sure I understand why you are embarrassed?! Literature is timeless. The book looks to be in good condition. What is the issue?!”
Parker says she didn’t expect the post to gather so much attention; she just wants a better future for Marley.
“It’s about fighting for our kid’s right to a better education,” she says.
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