One day, it’s textbooks. The next, it’s chairs.
In Oklahoma, where teachers continue to strike for higher wages and more public school funding, a viral photo of a chair decimated by years of overuse has brought attention to the state’s education funding crisis.
But for the teacher who posted it, this sad image has actually had a positive impact — inspiring $44,000 in donations from concerned citizens across the country, according to CNN.
Donations, which were made through Amazon Wishlist, have included refurbished laptops, a variety of writing utensils, chairs, and even origami paper, CNN reports.
“The past five days has been totally surreal and I don't think the full effect will hit me until I'm back in my classroom with my students,” Laurissa Kovacs, an art teacher in McAlester, Oklahoma, told CNN. "I think they will be amused to see me cry when I'm explaining everything."
Along with the image of the chair, Kovacs’ Facebook post also detailed her paltry take-home pay and overcrowded classrooms.
Oklahoma is ranked 49th in the nation for teacher salaries, and many teachers are forced to take multiple part-time jobs to subsidize their incomes. Low salaries and competition from neighboring states and private schools have left a shortage of 1,000 teachers, according to the Oklahoma Education Coalition, a group of 10 teachers’ associations from across the state.
This shortage of teachers means that those who stay in the state, like Kovacs, are faced with overcrowded classrooms. Although the national student to teacher ratio is 16:1, Kovacs’ classes had, on average, 26 students, according to her post.
“These kids deserve so much better than this,” she wrote. “They deserve classes that are small enough that the teachers can actually spend some time with each student.”
Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and ensuring access to quality education is goal number four. You can join Global Citizen and call on US leaders to increase funding for the Global Partnership for Education here.
After her post went viral and she received tens of thousands of dollars worth of donated items, Kovacs told CNN she plans to share the love.
“My plans are to share, share, share!" she said. "I'm not the only one in my district who needs things, so I'll be sharing it all."