Society
Society

Oklahoma Teacher Panhandles For School Supplies (Photo)

| by Michael Doherty

An Oklahoma teacher was "overwhelmed" with support after she protested a lack of funding for education by panhandling for school supplies.

Teresa Danks, 50, was growing frustrated with having to buy her own school supplies for the year, and decided to make a point by asking for money for education on the street, according to ABC.

Danks, who has taught for the past 12 years, said that a joke from her husband was what sparked her idea.

"My husband and I were just talking that morning and he kind of jokingly said, 'You could always make a sign and go on the corner like the panhandlers,'" said Danks. "I said, 'You know what? I think I'm going to do that. That's a great idea.'"

According to Danks, who reportedly makes about $35,000 a year, she spends almost $2,000 of her own money on school supplies each year.

The teacher stood at a busy intersection and held a poster board sign that read, "Teacher needs school supplies! Anything helps."

In just ten minutes, Danks made about $50 from the stunt, and said that she was grateful for the warm response.

"It just felt so scary," said Danks of standing on the street with the sign. "But it was a wonderful feeling to hear people being so supportive of teachers."

Danks said that one specific interaction choked her up. A young woman gave her some of her tips from waitressing and said, "I'm alive today because of a teacher like you," according to Time.

Oklahoma is reported to lead the country in budget cuts to education, along with ranking 49th out of 50 states in average teacher salary.

"It's just getting to the point where we don't have anything else to cut," remarked Danks. Oklahoma has already increased class sizes and even cut the school week to four days in some districts, along with shortages of supplies such as textbooks.

Danks said she needed to raise funds for supplies used for art and science projects, including beads, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners.

"I mean, they sound silly, but these are the kind of things you need," said the teacher. "Paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, they make the good little rocket ships when we do our solar system study."

"Most of these kids will never leave the city they live in or the rural community they live in, so teachers are trying to bring the world to them," she added.

Danks' efforts have led to a GoFundMe page that has raised over $14,000 toward a $20,000 goal to help fund education.

Danks said she's "definitely" going to keep going with her movement, adding: "I would love to see teachers across America standing out there with their signs, saying just that we're begging for education."

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist said, "We certainly know -- and I know personally from having been a teacher for many years -- that it is unfortunately commonplace in our country for teachers to invest many hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars in their classroom."

"We try to do what we can to make up for the lack of investment on the part of our state in our schools, and I'll continue to advocate for that," said Gist.

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