September 6, 2023

Kyle Reynolds: It’s time to defend our public schools

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Kyle Reynolds has been an education consultant, and he’s alarmed by the current state of affairs in Oklahoma.

For the first time in 50 years, I won’t have a “first day of school” experience as a student or employee of a public school or university, but this time of year still brings back a flood of memories. The smell of a new pair of sneakers, the feel of stiff new denim jeans, the No. 2 pencils waiting to be sharpened and the Trapper Keeper notebook that promises a more organized student.

But this year, a pall has been cast over our public education system and our educators by our very own leader of our public schools, the state schools superintendent. Instead of supporting public education, he is working to tear it down with lies, innuendos and hate — a FUD attack of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

The plan is working. About 40 years ago, a plan was put into place that is beginning to take hold. It started with a book titled “A Nation at Risk,” and the movement began to implement systems under the guise of accountability that would start to discredit public education in an effort to defund it.

Where would those funds be directed? Private schools. Oklahoma has taken significant steps as a part of this plan, diverting tax dollars to families who choose to send their students to private schools. We will find a year from now that the vast majority, if not all, of those funds will be subsidizing private school tuition for those who are already sending their kids to private schools.

The plan is working slowly and methodically with a message so crafty and sinister that it represents the pinnacle of effective marketing.

This wedge will widen the gap between the haves and have-nots, and opportunities for the students who need the most support in their education journey will be left out. Our Founding Fathers, turning over in their graves, would tell you that a free public education is the great equalizer that creates opportunities for all, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. The bootstraps for those who have none by which to pull themselves out of poverty, violence and lifelong health consequences.

My fear is that too many are beginning to buy into the emperor’s new clothes. By and large, our parents and residents trust and give high marks to the public schools in their neighborhoods and communities, yet the more vitriol and rhetoric that makes the rounds, the more they question those “other” schools. They don’t question Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones who live down the street, but they are worried about “the system.”

Read the full piece here. 

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