The Car that is Oklahoma Public Education
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The Car that is Oklahoma Public Education

A Letter to Oklahoma Legislators

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The Car that is Oklahoma Public Education
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Dear Oklahoma Legislators and Governor Mary Fallin,

If public education is a ‘car,’ then like any car it needs proper maintenance, and well, our ‘car’ has not seen that maintenance in years, and thus it’s hardly surprising that its engine has stalled. Let’s talk about our ‘car’ and what we need to do to fix this problem.

First, the teachers are the engine of this car, administrators the driver, and the students are the passengers. The Oklahoma State Government is the car’s mechanic, and so far, all the maintenance you have done has consisted of duct tape on the bumper. Our ‘car’ has seen no routine maintenance in several years. Three of its tires have no tread and the fourth is a donut. The engine has not had its oil changed. We have given it nothing but the cheapest high ethanol content gas. The A.C. does not blow and the tail lights are out.

Second, it is hardly fair for you to be upset at the engine for stalling and the driver and passengers from being angry with you when you are the only mechanic in town and we have no one else to turn to. You have been ignoring the complaints about the weird sound that the engine was making and saying that we just needed to wait a little while longer for you to get some new tires to replace the donut.

Also, it makes us wonder if you are trying to help the cops fill some sort of traffic ticket quota because we sure have gotten a lot of tickets for our busted tail lights that you keep promising us are no big deal and that should work fine if we give them a swift kick. These tickets worry us, because really, we cannot afford to pay them, and we do not want to go to jail as a result of these problems that could have been avoided with a better mechanic.

Let’s fix this problem. Pick up a mechanic’s how to book, hopefully one up to date, and contact an expert and fix this car. Listen to what the driver, passengers, and especially what the engine needs.

Let’s clean the gunk off our engine, change its oil, give it high quality gasoline. Give Teachers the ability to have a livelihood in our state. They should not have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. We are over working our engine, our teachers by expecting them to do more with less, to progress when what they have been given has regressed. The engine should not be responsible for providing its own tires. A car cannot function at its best even when its engine is working smoothly if the tires are worn down to a thin piece of rubber. Teachers cannot do their jobs properly without the proper resources. Our car cannot keep running with a donut, just like we cannot improve our education by running off good teachers and emergency certifying people we know are not prepared to do the job properly.

Let’s fix the car’s body. We need to weld that bumper back into place and not just rely on duct tape. Schools need funding to repair their buildings and to have their buildings repaired well. School fundraisers should be to buy new play grounds, or send their sports teams to national and world competitions, not to repair bathrooms that flood and are unusable. All schools should be able to be open five days a week without worrying how they will afford to pay for lunch, electricity, and transportation.

Put education first. Put money into education and not incarceration. No one wants to live in a state that does not care about education. You want to know why people leave the state? Because of the education. Improve the education and you will improve the whole state. You will draw people in when they see that we value our educators and our students. If they know their children will be educated well they will come. They will not come as long as they see students using books over a decade old, teachers working two to three jobs to make ends meet, or legislators complaining about their constituents utilizing their constitutional rights to assembly and free speech to gain much needed action.

We are not greedy teenagers asking for a new car. We are concerned and dedicated individuals demanding that you do your job and fix what you have broken and allowed to deteriorate.

I stand with Oklahoma teachers.

Sincerely,

An Alumnus of Oklahoma Public Education

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