Monday, March 23, 2015

#oklaed Queen for a Day

An #oklaed chat on Sunday night ended with a challenge – could bloggers, in 600 words or fewer, share the first two reforms they would enact if they were suddenly “Queen or King for a Day.” I will start with a history lesson, as I’m sure I’m the only one who remembers the reference. 

When I was a little girl my mom and grandma watched a cheesy TV show called ‘Queen for a Day.” The producers would find women with compelling sob stories and drag out every excruciating detail of their lives for the camera. Four women told their stories, and the audience voted by applauding, to choose the Queen for the Day, and then shower them with gifts (actually clever product placements…a first for TV!) that were supposed to make their lives magically better.

 I never understood how a wringer washing machine or a Dishmaster would change someone’s life, but the women seemed overcome. The competition, the prizes, probably had unintended consequences. But it was great TV.

If I’m #oklaed Queen for a Day, I want positive reforms.

Whatever we do to reform #oklaed must be more meaningful than a one-shot product placement. The changes need to be systemic and meaningful.  They need to make a difference in the culture of every school in the state, and a difference in the lives of our kids.

So, for my first pronouncement, I would immediately call for a moratorium on all unfunded or underfunded mandates in schools.

I love Joy Hofmeister’s line: Every mandate ends up on a teacher’s desk. Unsaid but implied is – and a student’s desk. Intensive remediation for our learners who struggle with reading? Fully funded. Raises for teachers? Fully funded. Stipends to encourage NBCTs to stay in the classroom? Fully funded. Specialized education experiences for ELL students? Fully funded.  Textbooks, libraries, technology. Quality professional development for teachers. Required courses that also require highly qualified teachers? Mandates that require administrators to oversee? Mandated testing not paid for by the state? Funded.

 If it’s important enough to mandate, policy makers would fully fund up front.  With smiles on their faces, knowing they have contributed to our kids’ lives.

Second…policy makers and schools (with full funding) would tackle the crippling inequity in the lives #oklaed students.

More #oklaed children live in poverty, and are hungry or homeless than the national average. Poverty leads to Adverse Childhood Experiences that become huge burdens some students bring to school every day. They experience traumas no child should. Our children are sick, have debilitating toothaches, asthma; they haven’t eaten since school lunch the day before; they don’t know if they will have a bed to sleep in. These children cannot be held accountable for academic learning until their physical and emotional needs are met. Policy makers owe that to our children.

Schools would provide wrap-around services for families – medical and dental clinics, social services would be housed in neighborhood schools. Parents could consult with other professionals about ways to support their children’s learning. Schools would be open into the evening for parents and children to use the libraries, the computer labs. Schools would be true neighborhood schools…inviting the community to participate in the education of our children.  Schools would provide engaging activities after school for students who would otherwise go home to empty homes.

Families must be supported as they do their best to raise their children.  Living wages for parents working full time and medical insurance for all children would be provided, because we would all be committed to raising the healthiest children we could.

If I was Queen for a Day, I would want the changes I made to be lasting, positive contributions to schools and students and parents. No wringer washers, no dish-o-matics, no gimmicks.  Real commitment to impact the way Oklahoma treats our most vulnerable citizens.

So, now I just need to find my tiara and scepter.

Related posts from fellow bloggers:

Queen for a Day -- Tegan Malone
If I Am the #Oklaed King for a Day -- Scott Haselwood
Another Brick in the Wall -- Shannon Mellott
If I Were Queen of Education -- Niky Shobert
#Oklaed King for a Day Submission -- BlueCerealEducation
If I Were King of #Oklaed -- Rob Miller, with a nod to Monty Python

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