Good and lasting change. Those are the words of a prayer for Oklahoma schools that I heard yesterday as our staff gathered for our weekly meeting. I can’t think of a better challenge for our state leaders than that. We need good and lasting change in our education system. However it gets done, the people of Oklahoma are speaking loud and clear that it needs to happen.
They are speaking at the capital, with protest crowds of teachers, parents and students growing in numbers. Buses leave every morning to take people from the districts to join in the demonstration. Those going in our district are paying to cover the transportation costs. They are meeting with their legislators as often as allowed and reminding them that we have cut education funding in our state annually for too long. I know the teachers going on behalf of my own kids have had a pivotal role in their lives, but many of them face daily obstacles in helping students flourish because of lack of funding. They are advocating for support staff who make such a huge difference every day in school transportation, lunchrooms, differentiated learning opportunities and school offices to name a few. Many of these roles do not pay a reasonable living wage.
They are speaking in communities by filling the gaps. I see churches, organizations and businesses all over Tulsa stepping up to help feed and care for students who are out of school. Last week, our church partnered with at least 7 other organizations to host a day camp for over 100 students in an under-resourced neighborhood. The volunteer work included feeding students breakfast and lunch, providing early care for working parents, a daily program of hip hop, percussion, vocal music, recreation, arts and crafts and ukulele classes. They put it together in a matter of days and it has continued into this week. And that’s the incredible effort being put forth in just one part of our city. It’s happening everywhere.
As I follow the details of the teacher walkout that began April 2, I have varying opinions about how that can get done. Some bills that are being considered or debated I agree with the idea. Some I’d rather see a different funding source considered. But I will support good and lasting change! Here’s the deal–most teachers I know became educators because they wanted to make good and lasting change in students’ lives! But, we must see a visible difference in how our legislature responds to education needs to believe that they too, want good and lasting change for our students and for the system charged with this amazing privilege to teach. Friends in the legislature, there are ideas coming your way every day on how to reverse course. Everyone in our state is speaking loud and clear. You are officially empowered to get it done.