What if Gov. Stitt and Ryan Walters had chosen to use the pandemic relief funds to bolster public education? Imagine, instead of throwing money into the void, they had used the funds to expand affordable internet access to every corner of the state. What if public school students were provided with laptops that could be checked out and taken home when schools had to close due to a Covid outbreak?
The pandemic showed us how essential access to broadband is. How many students couldn’t attend Zoom classes? How many couldn’t access online homework? How many fell behind, not for want of trying, but because they didn’t have the tools they needed?
Now that the damage has been done, and the federal government is asking for a chunk of misspent money back, the governor and his henchman are doubling down on their campaign to kill public education in Oklahoma.
First, there’s HB 1775, a poorly written piece of legislation that can frighten teachers away from teaching history and literature. Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it. Those who teach honest history in Oklahoma may lose their teaching credentials.
Good teachers don’t indoctrinate; they teach students to ask questions. They don’t tell students what to think, but how to think. Literature and literary discussions are important critical thinking tools. Students are sophisticated enough to talk about hard topics.
Classrooms are multicultural communities. If the literature doesn’t reflect the community, those who don’t see themselves in the stories become the outsiders. Students learn better in inclusive classrooms.
Banning books won’t make education better and it won’t make students smarter. Neither will sending public dollars to private schools and into private pockets.
There’s nothing wrong with private schools, but public schools should be so good that the choice to attend one should have nothing to do with quality. Oklahoma’s public schools should be the best schools in any given district. And despite Oklahoma being 46th in per pupil funding, they often are.
Public education is an investment in Oklahoma’s future. A brighter economic future starts with giving teachers the resources and the freedom to teach. Based on their actions and the words from their mouths, we won’t get either of those things from Gov. Stitt or Secretary Walters.
Every citizen in Oklahoma who believes in excellent public schools and universal access to a quality education needs to head to the polls in November. Vote to give teachers and schools the freedom and the tools to educate our children. Vote like democracy and Oklahoma’s economic future depend on your vote. They do!