May 22, 201202:02 PMEditor's Blog
Your Child Doesn't Have an AP Class? Thank a Legislator
The Oklahoma Education Association and the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association sponsored a "Read Across North Tulsa Day" last Sat. They invited community leaders and others to read to the kids. It was a great day! Thanks to OEA and TCTA for supporting literacy!
This is a difficult blog to write. Like many other parents, I feel that I've been kicked in the stomach by the Oklahoma Legislature and Governor Fallin. By not providing funds for public schools and voting an income tax cut on top of that, I fear that the children in this state may never crawl out of the hole they just dug for public education. What is most frightening is that many Oklahoma Legislators feel that it is not the job of the "government" to fund public education, so they really don't care if public schools fail. I believe this is un-American. Education in the United States is the great equalizer. Education is the way that people climb out of poverty and get ahead in this nation. Education is the key that unlocks the door to the American Dream. Our Legislators slammed that door in the faces of Oklahoma children today.
And lest you think I'm just referring to children who live in poverty, I'm not. Middle class kids are the ones who are not doing well in Oklahoma compared with other states. In fact, according to data from the Oklahoma Policy Institute, poor kids -- defined by students who are on free and reduced school lunch -- do pretty well in Oklahoma. OK Policy analyst Gene Perry writes:
Oklahoma is actually performing at or better than the national average for free/reduced lunch eligible children. Our 2011 rankings on 4th and 8th Grade Math and Reading tests ranged from 20th to 25th. Those students not eligible for free- or reduced-lunches do perform significantly better on these tests than low-income children. However, their ranking plummets compared to similar kids in other states. On fourth grade math and reading scores, they ranked 45th in the nation. By the eighth grade, math performance rose to 41st, while reading dropped to 46th.
The post concludes:
Because poverty is so high in Oklahoma and has such a large effect on school performance, reducing poverty remains the best thing we can do to improve our overall test scores. However, Oklahoma seems to be doing as well as the nation as a whole in teaching these kids.
It’s the middle class children who are not getting all that they should from Oklahoma schools. If we continue to increase class sizes and eliminate advanced electives that help good students to excel, that’s unlikely to change.
To see the entire post, go to: http://okpolicy.org/blog/education/oklahomas-middle-class-children-are-falling-behind/
So, if middle class kids in Oklahoma are performing at the bottom in reading and math nationally, how do you think they're going to do in larger classes? How are they going to do when programs such as band, honors and AP classes, languages and advanced electives are cut? State Superintendent Janet Barresi says she wants Oklahoma kids to be "college ready." I don't know what colleges she's referring to, but when my kids applied, the colleges were looking for several years of foreign languages, extracurricular and leadership activities, advanced science, literature and math classes and AP and IB classes. How can our kids be competitive in the nation or in the world without these opportunities? Why would businesses want to locate in a state where education is not a priority? Honestly, I feel like the Legislature just stole our children's futures.
We have to keep fighting. Vote. And vote for those running for office who specifically say they want to fund our schools.