Last month I attended the Central Oklahoma Parents Legislative Action Committee (PLAC) open meeting, which featured a panel with state senators Clark Jolley and Susan Paddock and state representatives Scott Inman and Scott Martin. While I know entire essays could be devoted to one political issue at a time, my general take away at this critical juncture in education is that we must act.
I will be the first to admit that until this year, I have never written a letter or e-mail to a member of congress. Disappointed as you might be that Oklahoma's teacher "ambassador” is a political couch potato, I simply take faith knowing that it is never too late. No matter what frustrations we may have, new or old, it is never too late to take action.
The greatest employed body in many towns and cities across our state are the teachers. Above that, parents make up the vast majority of voters. These two forces, often overlapped and combined, have the strongest voice in our state.
When you choose to vocalize, remember that your message must not only be urgent and important, but always kind. As odd as it may seem, to most effectively move a person in a decision-making position your message cannot be focused on your own interests. It cannot only be about students. You must highlight how your request will help the decision-maker. Make positive demands, but be prepared to answer tough questions about what must give in order to meet them.
It is time, more than ever, to invest greatly in our children and their teachers. Democracy can work only if we have an educated electorate. Now is our time for action, and it’s also time for me to go write a letter.