Monday October 23, 2017

Consensus not always easy in Oklahoma public education

Consensus isn’t always easy, especially with something as politically charged as public education. There are so many opinions about the “fixes”. In fact, anyone who ever went to school seems to see themselves as an expert.

One place of broad-reaching agreement is that teachers are incredibly valuable and critical to students’ success. Having the best teachers in every classroom has to be the goal and addressing the teacher shortage must be a high priority.

Keeping our best and brightest in the state of Oklahoma is the only way our students will thrive and, while pay isn’t everything, it is generally agreed upon that teachers don’t get the pay they deserve.

An important thing to remember is that, in addition to pay inequities, the current budget crisis in Oklahoma has left teachers and schools without adequate support needed to deliver a rich educational environment to every child.

So what needs to happen and what can the average citizen do? So much is riding on this special session and legislators are faced with decisions that will have long lasting and far reaching consequences, not just for education but for many services that Oklahoma City Public Schools children and their families rely on. Reaching out to legislators to let your voice be heard is one way.

Another way is to help teachers and students with their needs, and many community partners are doing just that. Sonic’s Limeades for Learning is a program that funds teacher projects through Customers vote on their favorite projects and Sonic does the funding. So far this school year, Sonic has helped 280 teachers with about $130,000 in materials and supplies for their classrooms.

The Thunder organization announced their partnership with last week at a celebration of their 10th season kick off. They will match health and fitness projects for all teachers throughout the state of Oklahoma.

The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools partners with to fund a KICKSTART for every Oklahoma City Public Schools teacher’s first funded project and have funded 401 projects just this school year. Anyone can help fund a project on, with a donation as small as $1.

There are many examples of what these projects do for teachers and all are heart-warming. Mrs. G. from F.D. Moon Academy recently had a project funded for her Pre-K students, with additional help from community partner OG&E.

The project was called Let’s Learn! The project was simple. She requested basic supplies like paint, pipe cleaners, colored pom-poms, a white board organizer and Popsicle sticks to teach her students pattern work, shapes, color recognition and fine motor skills.

She explained that her students are hungry and eager to learn, even though her school is high poverty. She goes on to say that her students don’t blink an eye at that fact. She believes that, “if educated properly, and with the right equipment, they have the energy and drive to make a difference in this world.”

Mrs. G. and all teachers need our appreciation and our support. It’s up to us to make this happen.

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