Over 150 female attorneys plan to walk as a group to the Capitol from the Oklahoma Bar Association building Monday morning to advocate for striking teachers.
They are part of a nation-wide group called Girl Attorney that started as a Facebook group in 2016 but since has formed as an LLC that publishes their own website, girlattorney.com.
Attorneys April Kelso, Jessica Dark, and Haley Hopper met with Free Press Friday to discuss their motivations for joining the unusual action planned for Monday.
“We don’t want to come across that we think teachers are incapable of doing this on their own,” said Dark. ”We just think that it’s important to stand with them and beside them.”
“The presence is to show lawmakers that it isn’t just teachers but it’s the community, it’s parents, it’s other professionals who are fighting to fund education.”
Kelso, in her eighth year practicing law and a mother, was clear that the group expects to add weight to the push to get results from a Legislature that has cut education funding in the state by 28 percent in the last decade.
“Our goal is to make sure that teachers know that they have the support of their community and also to see a little bit of progress with the ultimate result that’s agreeable to everyone,” Kelso said.
She was quick to add that this was not meant to question whether teachers can advocate for themselves.
“I don’t want this to seem condescending, like oh, teachers, let us handle it.”
“I’ve had several of my teacher friends text me and say, tell me that you will be here,” Kelso said.
“It will just help to have an extra group to show up.”
“There’s a personal element to this for many of us, too,” said Hopper.
“We have two kids, a three-year-old and five-month-old, they are not in school yet but they will be soon in Norman Public Schools.”
“I have teachers who are friends of mine,” Hopper said. “I see what they do and how hard they work. I want to support them any way I can.”
The six-year veteran of legal practice said that the group is ready to help even if it means offering to help Legislators draft language for bills that would move the process along.
Teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, and students will be entering their second week of a statewide protest to pressure the Oklahoma Legislature and Governor Mary Fallin to restore some of the education funding that has been cut over the last decade.
The union representing Oklahoma state service workers has been a part of the coalition pushing for restoration of massive cuts to the state’s public services and education instituted for ten years under the Republican-dominated Legislature and Republican governor.
The group will step off on their march to the Capitol at 10 a.m. Monday from the Oklahoma Bar Association at 1901 N. Lincoln Boulevard.
Special thanks to Susan Carns Curtiss and Kari Hawthorne, attorneys in Oklahoma City and members of Girl Attorney for their assistance in developing this story.