BY JOE DORMAN
There is nothing more important for Oklahoma’s children and the future of our state than ensuring every child has access to a good education. Education is a fundamental building block for a successful and fulfilling life; lack of education is often the driving force behind poverty, poor health and social problems.
It goes without saying that Oklahoma’s ability to recruit and retain quality teachers in our public school system is immensely important. Unfortunately, extremely low teacher salaries and poor working conditions are driving some of our most talented education professionals out of state and destroying the morale of those who choose to say.
Oklahoma’s teachers are taking matters into their own hands with a planned Teacher Walkout on April 2.
At OICA, we are glad there is a spotlight being put on education and teacher pay, but we also want to ensure children do not fall through the cracks while schools are temporarily closed.
Currently, 436,000 children in Oklahoma are participants in the National Free and Reduced Lunch Program according to data from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Many of these children are also supported by backpack programs which send food home over the weekend for families in need. Obviously, those resources are unavailable when schools are closed.
To fill that gap in services, the Regional Food Bank is preparing and distributing boxes of food to impacted families. We know there are a lot of other groups offering resources like this to parents as well, and we want to help them. Organizations that are offering services to children and families can contact OICA at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to have their information listed by community. Once uploaded, Oklahomans will be given options listed at www.oica.org on where their children can be taken during the day for child care and food services while parents/guardians are at work.
Teacher pay in Oklahoma is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and requires the attention of our lawmakers and our state. We are proud of the Oklahoma organizations working to care for children and lessen the impact on families while this important public policy discussion takes place.
– Former state Rep. Joe Dorman is CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy