The petition drive for a penny sales tax to fund teacher pay raises, the one led by OU President David Boren, began Wednesday.
It's a 90-day period to gather more than 123,000 signatures for a statewide vote. The first to sign it, Norman High School teacher Shawn Sheehan, the 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
"I think it's the best option, maybe not the answer. It’s complicated. If it were simple, we would have found a solution a long time ago. I appreciate the other bills out there for teacher raises, but I’m wary of those. This is our best most realistic option that can be passed," Sheehan said.
But Sheehan admits it's not all about salaries.
Sheehan is in his fifth year of teaching in Norman Public Schools. He said he learned early on, it's easy to get discouraged in the job.
"I overheard a colleague in the teacher lounge tell her own child, 'don't do this job. The pay is too low. You won't be respected. You're smart enough to do something else.’ Which is super insulting, right? There are people in that building who dedicated their lives to this profession," Sheehan said.
That lackluster review was what set him on his mission. His Teach Like Me campaign is what sets him apart. It's his effort to improve teacher recruitment and retention in our state.
Sheehan travels to D.C. at the end of this month to compete for National Teacher of the Year. You can show your support of Sheehan using #SheehanNTOY16.