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Thompson: 25,000 Rally for Education in Oklahoma

Rally I was one of 25,000 to 30,000 teachers, students, and parents rallying at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

No, this is not an April Fool's joke!

After education spending was cut more than any other state, while the full load of test-driven reforms were imposed, we are pushing back. Despite attacks by the Daily Oklahoman and some legislators on teachers for "abandon(ing) their posts ... for no good reason," the rally showed that public education supporters aren't going to take it anymore.

Signs protesting nonstop testing and budget cuts were everywhere. The Tulsa World's Kim Archer, in Rally for School Funding Draws 25,000 Teachers, Parents, Students, reports that two students, Erika Vinson and Asher Nees, "both spoke eloquently about how teachers have changed their lives."

Vinson compared teachers to gardeners who "have more flowers to look after with fewer resources in drought-like conditions." She explained the stress that high-stakes testing puts students, especially 3rd graders.  She proclaimed, "I am, not —absolutely not — the end-of-instruction tests."

Jeffrey Corbett, president of the Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association, echoed the opposition to the testing mania. He said, "It is time for the era of standardized testing as the dominant force in education to end."

John Tuttle, president-elect of the National School Boards Association, even used the P-word, opposing efforts to "privatize" public schools, "I believe that public education is a civil right and the cornerstone of our democracy." 

Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard, who has perhaps taken more risks than any high-profile Oklahoman in supporting public education, wrapped the presentations up with the reminder, "This is not about funding, it's about respect." 

And, neither is this an April Fools Joke.

The Oklahoma Senate has agreed to hear HB 2625 to alleviate test stress for young students. It would allow a panel of a student’s parents, teachers, the school principal and reading specialists to recommend that the student, who fails the 3rd grade reading test, to be passed on to fourth grade. The student would receive intensive reading assistance in an attempt to improve proficiency.

They said it couldn't be done. Who would have thought that teachers would have dared to pull what the Oklahoman called a "stunt," and demand an end to nonstop mandates to do more with less.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

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