School closings in Oklahoma are a big concern for parents, so a group of mom lawyers decided to take matters into their own hands.
On Monday, more than 100 women are expected to march almost a mile from the Oklahoma Bar Association to the state Capitol in Oklahoma City to aid negotiations between legislators and educators.
Teacher walkouts in the state continued into their fifth day Friday, and they will extend into next week over demands for increased education funding.
Monday’s march is the brainchild of Becki Murphy, an adoption attorney from Tulsa who shared the idea in a Facebook group for female lawyers called Girl Attorney.
“Most of us are moms, so it’s affecting our ability to work,” she told CNN. Murphy headed into her firm Friday morning with her two children, her friend’s two kids and her two dogs.
“I thought, ‘We are a strong group of intelligent women. Why aren’t we coming together to do something about this? ‘”
Others agreed. Before long, 120 women with a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise signed up to participate.
Dividing and conquering
The coalition is setting up group appointments with lawmakers to hear their concerns. It is also talking to educators about what they feel is needed for Oklahoma’s public school system to flourish.
“We have a specific skill set. Every single day we have people in opposing positions, and we try to bring them to a middle ground,” Murphy said.
To get ready for Monday, each attorney is taking up a different project, such as drafting press releases, preparing talking points and writing a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin.
And it’s not just moms who are participating.
Susan Carns Curtiss, founder of Girl Attorney, said women without children are stepping up because they feel that Oklahoma’s education system affects everyone.
“The current situation is not sustainable,” she told CNN. “It’s not good for the kids, it’s not good for the teachers and it’s not good for the state.”
Curtiss’ children attend public schools, but she also considers the crisis from beyond a parental perspective.
“We are really wanting to support other professionals in our state who have been brave enough to walk out and stay out,” she said, adding that she feels privileged to be able to stand behind educators on this issue.
Community over politics
The conflict between teachers and legislators has been tense for the last week, but both Murphy and Curtiss emphasized that the women of Girl Attorney are not taking a political stance.
Instead, their priority is to help both sides come up with a solution that considers everyone’s best interest.
They also want to show what can be accomplished when outspoken women work as a team – which is why many, such as Murphy, are bringing their daughters.
Ragon Fancy, Murphy’s 11-year-old daughter, is a student at Jenks Public Schools near Tulsa. Her fifth-grade teachers were at the Capitol all this week, and the mother-daughter duo hopes to link up with them on Monday.
“I think it’s important, especially now, for her to see women come together,” Murphy said. “I want her to see that we are powerful, we are strong and we can effect change.”