Thursday August 25, 2022

We Must Do Better For Our Kids

Ranking 45th in education is a long way from the top ten. When you look at this ranking alongside the other metrics surrounding children in our state, it Is not a huge stretch to see the correlation between all of these measures and our ranking in the bottom ten nationally for child well-being. We must do better.

It surprises many people when they learn that about 90 percent of students in Oklahoma City Public Schools live at or below the poverty line. This fact doesn’t mean our children can’t learn. Quite the opposite. Our children are bright and wonderful, as are all children. It does mean some come to school hungry. It does mean some are experiencing homelessness. It does mean some have a family member who is incarcerated, or they may not have a winter coat. All of these facts mean they need some extra support when they walk into the school building. It’s not an excuse. It’s a fact. And, it’s not just Oklahoma City Public Schools. This is happening throughout our state. We must do better.

When funding for public education is embattled year after year it takes a toll. It takes a toll on teachers in the classroom and on administrators who are planning innovative programs for their students. When public education is constantly in the spotlight politically it takes a toll on teachers in the classroom and affects those thinking about going into the profession. Teacher education programs are more rigorous than most bachelor degree programs, yet the pay is often lower and the public scrutiny is endless. All of this takes a toll on our children. We must do better.

There are so many ways we can improve the lives of children and increase our education ranking. The first step is by working together and agreeing that the mission is more important than who gets the credit. Who cares which political side you’re on if all of our kids are thriving? For those not willing to give up the rhetoric and come to the table to make meaningful improvements for our children, we all have a role to play by voting and in the ways we as community members advocate for our schools. We must do better.

Public education serves the majority of children in Oklahoma, and likely always will. Public education should always be an easy choice because of quality, cost and convenience. Until we address the plethora of other issues facing our children and families, it will be very difficult to reach top ten status. Until we find common ground on the issues that matter most to the well- being of our children, it will be impossible.

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