Village, We Need You

It was somewhat serendipitous my family even ended up in Moore. After serving three years in the Army, my dad was looking for a place to start his veterinary practice. He sent out inquiries to random chambers of commerce, and Moore responded. They were a fast-growing community in need of a veterinary practice. Dad purchased some land just north of the “new” high school, and with my mom, and then one-year-old brother, moved to Moore (Smile America!) in 1971. Silverleaf Animal Hospital will celebrate 43 years in May.

My dad, Brick, with my son, Brick.

Immediately, my father began his business, and simultaneously, his service to the community.   Being conveniently located a block north of Moore High School, my dad felt compelled to bring ice-cold watermelons to the football team during two-a-day practices. He had at least one of his five children enrolled in the school district for 28 years, which meant countless hours at functions, countless dollars to fundraisers, and countless booster meetings. These obligations were compounded when my mother began her 22-year-stint as a teacher in Moore Public Schools.

And Dad did all those things with a glad heart because he firmly believes in the power of community, and the old mantra, “it takes a village”.

When I was in junior high in the mid-90’s, our district failed a bond issue. The school I attended was a mid-high-turned-elementary-turned-junior-high, and was in desperate need of repair. My dad and a few others formed a “posse”, if you will, to assist with the campaign effort to pass the bond in its second attempt. I can remember sitting in the office of my dad’s accountant making phone calls reminding people to vote.

It failed again.

The posse ramped up their efforts and decided to take a different approach. It was postulated that there were, in fact, more people in favor than not of passing the bond issue. The “yes” votes were simply not voting. So, they focused their effort on increasing voter turnout, and finally…the third time around, it passed.

My dad and a few other members of that posse were asked to join a newly-formed group of community members whose mission eventually became to raise private dollars to support public schools. Dad was a member for 12 years. That group, Moore Public Schools Foundation, is still going strong today.

I tell you this story to make this point: parents and community members are the best catalyst for change when it comes to our schools.   It wasn’t for lack of effort on behalf of administrators and teachers that those bond issues didn’t pass in the first two attempts. But it took the voices of people outside of the schools joining in the fight to get it done.

It took the village, folks.

And village, we need you now.

We’re short more than 1000 teachers in Oklahoma, and yet our legislature is not willing to make the connection between teacher salary and matriculation.

Our state has endured the largest cuts to education funding in the nation—more than 23%–since 2008. We’re educating 40,000 more students today than 7 years ago, and we’re doing it with fewer teachers and less funding.

Our kids are being subjected to hours of rigorous standardized testing that is a poor measure of both student and teacher performance. What’s more, those tests, upon which so much emphasis is placed, can’t be relied upon for accuracy in administration. These tests are bringing our children to tears. They’re making some kids physically ill. Are we really willing to accept that this is what school has become and will be for posterity?

Educators are fighting for change. We’ve been to the capitol. We’ve contacted our legislators. We’ve filled our blogs with messages for change, and evidence to support the need for it. All while continuing to fulfill our calling to the profession.

Any “Police” fans in the house? Because I’m sending out an S.O.S.

Save Our Schools, Village. We need your help.

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