Thursday, March 29, 2007

OEA Lobby Day

More than 200 OEA teachers and support professionals spent the day at the Capitol for the 2007 OEA Lobby Day. Our members discussed the importance of continuing to move us to the regional average in salaries, retirement and insurance issues, and a number of teaching and learning issues. Meeting with Senator Richard Lerblanc are Shelly Beck, Stephanie Walker and Cattrina Gragg.

In the next photo, I'm pictured with Anson Shuman and Mary Mangham of Ardmore and Glenda Puett from Tulsa Union.

In the above photo with Senate Pro Tempore Mike Morgan are Linda Ogle, McCloud; Rosemarie Bushong, Shawnee; and Joyce Flowers, Kristy Jones and Jana Richardson from Meeker.

Some of our members attended Governor Henry's press conference to see what he was going to do with the GA Bill that was sent to him. The rumors around the Capitol were that he would veto everything except the supplemental funding for education and corrections, and before a packed "Blue Room" he announced his veto.

Governor Henry is committed to career teacher salaries and addressing the teacher's retirement shortfall. Both of these issues have been long time OEA goals for more than a decade. OEA has continued to lobby for these issues, but they've fallen on deaf ears in the past.

Last year, we lobbied against a bill that would take money from the school land fund because it was illegal. The 2006 Legislature ignored proposals by the Oklahoma Education Coalition and the Governor and were upset when we were able to defeat the bill. The Association is extremely proud of the effort and will continue to address the OTRS with proposals that won't take money from our schools through the school land trust.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Governor Henry Vetos General Appropriations Bill

Earlier this afternoon, Governor Henry held a press conference where he announced that he had signed the supplemental appropriations for education and corrections, but would veto nearly $7B in general appropriations funds. Standing behind him were the Democrats from the House of Representatives who will work to sustain his veto.

Governor Henry said that it was necessary for all parties to be involved in the budget making process. We will continue to work with the Governor and the members of both parties in the House and Senate to adequately fund education.

Monday, March 26, 2007

We Need You

OEA Lobby Day will be held on Wednesday, March 28. Members will meet at the OEA Headquarters (323 E. Madison Ave, OKC 73105) at 9:00 am for a briefing before heading to the Capitol. The main issues for the Lobby Day will be the education budget and the possible inclusion of additional teacher salary increases to help fulfill the Governor's plan to get us to the regional average.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Questions about the Budget Agreement

The Senate and House have come to a budget agreement, but there are a number of unanswered questions.

From the Alliance for Oklahoma's Future:

1. Did the unusual process allow for meaningful input from legislators and constituents?

2. Does the agreement provide adequate resources for essential government functions this year?

3. Does the agreement allow Oklahoma to meet its obligations in future years?

4. Do we choose to follow the path of deeper, accelerated tax cuts at the expense of investments in areas where Oklahoma still lags behind?

For recent news, information, and analysis on State budget and tax issues, go to To download the Alliance fact sheets into one document, simply Click Here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Supplemental Funding Bill-Contact your Legislator

There is still no supplemental funding for our schools. Read the latest on the issue at

Below are just a few school districts that are already considering which certified teachers and support employees will be reduced if a supplemental appropriation for common education is not immediately received:

Catoosa – have already dismissed 6 certified and more than 20 support employees!
Tulsa Tech Center
Liberty Schools in the Tulsa area
Claremore – will not renew contracts for 20 of the 40 new teachers
Deer Creek/Lamont

Last year the State Legislature approved teacher pay raises but failed to fund the fixed costs attached to those raises, leaving individual school districts on the hook for millions of dollars. With fixed incomes and a projected deficit totaling more than $56 million, school districts like ours will be forced to make very tough choices about balancing their budgets. (
See details of the fixed costs.)

Take Action Now! In less than 60 seconds, you can tell our lawmakers to support public education and support funding for educator pay raises that the Legislature has already mandated.

If the State Legislature does not approve additional funding, our school district will face budget deficits that could cripple us financially and throw our schools — and teachers like us — into disarray. School districts will likely cope with this shortfall by cutting education programs and jobs. The real question is which ones?

The first education programs cut will mostly likely be arts, physical education and other non-tested subjects. The first jobs to go will likely be those belonging to support professionals, the good people who drive school buses, clean classrooms, serve school lunches, maintain school buildings, and more.

But in the end it will be our students who suffer the most, when classroom teachers like us will be forced to do more with less.

Don't let the State Legislature sandbag public education with unfunded mandates. You can make a difference in less than 60 seconds. Tell our lawmakers to stand up for teachers and students.
Tell our lawmakers to support full and adequate funding for the pay raises they've already mandated.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

NEA President Testifies on NCLB

NEA President Reg Weaver spoke to House and Senate education committees March 13 about NEA's positive agenda of reforms to the No Child Left Behind Act. His recommendations for improving the law included strategies for closing achievement gaps and retaining qualified educators.

This is another example of how NEA works for you and children across Oklahoma and the United States.

Testimony link at

To see the written version (different-more detail)

What are you reading...?

After spending the last few weeks reading Dr. Seuss books, I was asked the other day what I've been reading and the names of my favorite authors.

The last 3 books I've read are "The Freedom Writer's Diary" by Erin Gruwell; "Three weeks with my Brother" by Nicholas Sparks and "The Heart of a Husker-Tom Osborne's Nebraska Legacy" by Mike Babcock.

I know..I know...three totally different books about real life people. I enjoyed Gruwell's book because it's written by her students and gives a real look at what is happening in the lives of our kids.

The Sparks book was an interesting read. I liked it because I've got two brothers I've always been close with and the story line of spending time with them appealed to me.

The book about Osborne was an interesting read and a little repetitive. The author interviewed a number of former players and coaches about their thoughts regarding Tom Osborne. Though he worked with young men from 18-23 years old, he was extremely committed to the youth in our society.

I have a number of authors I enjoy reading--Peter Jenkins, Baldacci, Grisham, Flynn, some Stephen King ("Green Mile", "On Writing", "Shawshank Redemption"), Ludlum, Clancy, just about any baseball author, etc. etc. etc. I was lucky enough to have a 5th grade teacher who made reading interesting, fun, and challenging and I'll share more about her at another time.

Drop me a line and let me know what and who you enjoy reading.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Oklahoma Education Coalition

The 2007 legislative session will mark the 10th anniversary for the Oklahoma Education Coalition. In honor of those ten years, I’d like to remind you about what we believe in, and work for, not just during the session, but throughout the year.

The OEC is dedicated to excellence in education for all Oklahomans. Education is our top priority. We know that public education gives students of all socioeconomic categories the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. The Coalition supports a comprehensive legislative program that meets the needs of students of all ages advancing education as the great equalizer in our society.

Oklahoma students deserve public schools that provide them with the opportunity to meet their potential and succeed in life. Our communities need parents and leaders who want to invest in their schools. To meet today’s high standards, our students need smaller class sizes, up to date text books, safe and modern classrooms and state of the art technology.

The best indicator for student success is a quality teacher in the classroom. The OEC believes Oklahoma students deserve qualified teachers. The state’s post secondary teacher training programs are recognized as some of the most outstanding in the nation and Oklahoma is in the upper tier in the number for National Board Certified Teachers. Despite success in those areas, we must continue to invest in education to retain and attract people to the education profession. Providing Oklahoma educators with professional compensation will help address these needs.

Investing in education is an investment in Oklahoma’s economic future. Our schools need adequate tools and resources to meet the challenges of the changing workplace. An educated workforce will attract new business to our state and their employees will want to move here because they know Oklahoma has great schools.

Studies confirm education ranks among the top, if not the top, quality of life factor, for relocating and expanding industry. If Oklahoma wants to aggressively attract new companies, the Oklahoma legislature must fund education at a level that allows us to compete in the global market.

The Oklahoma Education Coalition will continue to address these issues and the legislation that governs them as we ensure our students and communities have the best public schools. Adequately funding education provides Oklahoma with a competitive economic edge that will propel us into our second century.

The OEC is made up of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, Oklahoma Education Association, Oklahoma State School Boards Association, Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools, United Suburban Schools Association, Oklahoma Parents and Teachers Association, Oklahoma Federation of Teachers, Higher Education Alumni Council of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education, Tulsa classroom Teachers Association, Oklahoma City Public Schools and the Tulsa Public Schools.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?

Here's a little something to keep you entertained this weekend while you try to make your own personal AYP.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Catoosa RIF and Other Reasons for Membership

In light of the recent attempt at RIF in Catoosa, many non-members are asking about membership in the OEA/NEA. I spent some time addressing this in the post "Catoosa Eliminates Teacher & ESP Jobs", but for those of you who want more information go to

Tulsa Metro D Legislative Update

Tusla Metro Zone D welcomed me for a legislative update last night. They expressed a great deal of concern with the Catoosa RIF and agreed to email their legislators about the supplemental funding issues. While those areas are of major concern, the members of Tulsa Metro D, led by Director Sarah Cooper, were also concerned about the Any Body Can Teach Everything Bill, tax cuts, retirement issues, teaching/learning issues and the progress of the Governor's salary plan. In the photo are Tulsa Union teachers Pat McDonald, Christy Friesen, Deena Churchill and Sarah Cooper.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

More on the Aspen Report

This is a column that really gets to the heart of NCLB issues and the Aspen Report:

Stop Leaving Children Behind (, Column, Internet)A few weeks ago the Aspen Institute issued a report suggesting that what the country needs is more of the same: tougher standards, harsher penalties, more private ownership of public schools. No major publication questioned whether or not tougher standards have been scientifically proven to raise test scores…

Catoosa Eliminates Teacher & ESP Jobs

On Wednesday evening, Paul Gayowski, Joel Robison and I met with over 100 members and non-members of our Catoosa locals to address their questions and concerns regarding Catoosa's dramatic reduction-in-force (RIF) this week.

Catoosa let go 22 support professionals on Wednesday and are attempting to reduce 5 certified teachers by March 29th so that the district can address financial shortfalls attributed to the lack of supplemental money for the fixed costs of teacher salaries and an increase in all-day kindergarten costs.

It's extremely important that the legislature pass the supplemental appropriations so further RIFs don't occur in Catoosa and in other districts across the state. For more information go to

To contact your legilator go to

The action by the local district is another reason why being a member in the OEA is important part of your professional career. Our members will have representation throughout this ordeal and will be in contact with the most talented and knowledgeable advocates and attorneys in the state. It was sad to watch people who were losing their jobs ask us if they could get help if they joined on Wednesday night.

The OEA is about so much more than job action issues. We believe in great public schools for every child and work very hard to ensure that schools are adequately funded so that kids can have the best education. The OEA is in the forefront with Teaching and Learning Issues because we want every child to have a great teacher. If you are interested in joining the OEA go to

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

TCTA Executive Committe Meeting

Today Joel Robison and I gave a legislative update to the TCTA Executive Committee. They are a great group of people who are very committed to their local Association. Led by President Steve Stockley and VP Denzel Kesterson, when it comes to acting on education issues before the legislature, you can bet the Tulsa Classroom Teachers will be contacting their representatives.
Visit TCTA's websit at

Joel and I had to leave to get to Catoosa and we missed the celebration for Shawna Mott-Wright who is expecting her second child. Congratulations Shawna and I know that Patricia is looking forward to being a grandmother again.

Monday, March 05, 2007

RAA Honored by House of Representatives

During the early part of the afternoon session of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Representative Gus Blackwell and the House Leadership honored OEA's Read Across America program with a resolution supporting the organization's support of literacy.

It is a great honor as OEA celebrates the 10th anniversary of the RAA program. During the years, thousands of students have benefited from readings, free books and entertaining events sponsored by their local schools. During these events, I ask the kids to pledge to read with an adult they care about and love. It's my hope that Oklahoma's kids will all have a caring, significant other to help make an impact on them about the importance of reading.

After the reading of the Resolution, we gathered in the reception area for photos. In the first photo, OEA leadership was joined by Lt. Governor Jari Askins, 2007 Honorary Chair, The Cat in the Hat(OEA's Bruce Treadaway), Representative Gus Blackwell, Representative Ann Coody and OEA Associate Executive Director, Joel Robison.

The second photo is during the reading of the Resolution and the final photo is of me getting the honor of addressing the Oklahoma House of Representatives with Speaker Cargill and Representative Blackwell in the background.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

SOEA Conference

The SOEA Conference continued today with a variety of workshops designed with the student members in mind. At lunch, I had a chance to share with them about the significance of what they did for Taft Middle School. Their work will make the difference in children's lives for years to come.

After I finished up, NEA Executive Committee member, Carolyn Crowder, spoke to the students about the NEA. She talked a great deal about great public schools being a basic right for every child. Carolyn was well received by OEA's student members. They understand the importance of what she has to say and will do their part to provide great public schools for every child in the buildings where they work. You may access the SOEA website at

Celebrate Literacy Award

This morning the OEA was presented with the Oklahoma Reading Association's Celebrate Literacy Award in honor of the OEA Read Across America program. With Vice-President Becky Felts and Cat in the Hat, Bruce Treadaway, is John Pillow of the Christmas Connection. John has been instrumental in providing books to thousands of school children across the state of Oklahoma.

It's an honor for the OEA to win this award during the 10th anniversary of Read Across America. Thousands of children have benefited from this program statewide as our members and staff have been actively involved in the success of the program. So many groups have helped make this award possible and I want to thanks those groups who've been with us for a number of years: Staples, the Christmas Connection, Bob Moore Saturn of OKC, Blunk's Studios, and our number of esteemed Chairs. This program has been tremendous and we look forward to the next 10 years.

For more information on the Oklahoma Reading Association go to

Friday, March 02, 2007

RAA at the Boys and Girls Club

Our final RAA stop was at the Boys and Girls Club on Western. Members of the "Club" had been actively involved with a reading program over a two-three week period. During that time, the Pi Phis and OEA staff read a variety of books to the kids.

Today's program was somewhat different for the kids. They all gathered in their normal groups, but with a pile of backpacks in front of them. The program started with the Cat in the Hat (OEA's Bruce Treadaway) reviewing what the program had been about over the last couple of weeks. After Bruce finished, author Faith Clune read from her book "When to Whisper" and then presented 36 kids with autographed copies of her book.

As you can imagine, the kids were extremely excited when I led them through the reading pledge. The excitement level rose higher as 6 lucky kids were presented scooters by Bob Grant representing Bob Moore Saturn of OKC. Next up was all of the kids getting a backpack donated by OEA and the Christmas Connection, and to top it off, all of the kids got to go out to the Hornets Bookmobile to pick out a book. It was an incredible end to a very special day.

In the photo representing the sponsors are Laura Lang, Boys and Girls Club; Joan Hess, Pi Phis; Blake Wade, Oklahoma Centennial Commission; Author Faith Clune, Jeanie Edney, Oklahoma Centennial Commission; Bob Grant, Bob Moore Saturn of OKC; and Daniel Medley, Boys and Girls Club. (for more info on the Boys and Girls Club go to

RAA at Lake Park, Putnam City

My next stop for our Read Across America Program was in Putnam City at Lake Park Elementary. During the weekly Lion's Pause meeting, I gave a brief history about RAA and its purpose. Then the fun began as the Cat in the Hat made his appearance from behind the screen. The Cat and I led the kids in the readers pledge and they all promised to read with someone they care about to help spread the joy of reading. Representing Lake Park are Calvin Porterfield (Cat in the Hat), Katherine Bishop and Kelli Chastain.

2007 Outreach to Teach-Taft MS, OKC

This year the 2007 SOEA/OEA Outreach to Teach was held at Taft Middle School on March 2nd. Taft is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and looking at the front of the building, you can still see the beautiful architecture that was used in its construction. However, inside, there are a great many areas in need of repair and painting. After the holes were filled in by the maintenance crew, over 250 SOEA members attacked the building with paint brushes. The results were fantastic and the change in the building corresponded with a change in attitude, I heard many of the students express, about their school. For more highlights and information about SOEA log on at

I'd like to thank the following sponsors for their help with the Outreach to Teach Program:
Ace Hardware, Acme T-Shirts, budget floors, Chili's, Christmas Connection, Edmond ACT, Enterprise Car Sales, Hollywood Video, Home Depot, Hornets Bookmobile, J & B Pipe Supply, Lowe's, NEA-Student Program, OEA BOD, OEA's Read Across America, Oklahoma Educator's Credit Union, OKC-C Zone, Pi Phi Sorority, Sonic, Staples, Taft Middle School Administrators & Staff, and USAO SOEA Books for Tots.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

RAA in Woodward

Today was another special day as I got to travel to a number of schools in Woodward to read to kids during our 10th anniversary of NEA/OEA's Read Across America program. I attended the morning assembly at Westwood Early Childhood Center where our local President, Kenni Fewin, teaches. Then it was on to Cedar Heights, back to Westwood for the afternoon assembly, Highland Park, and finally finishing up at Horace Mann. What a great day meeting and greeting many of our members. Kenni and Corene Selman took this picture at the entrance to Westwood with Cat in the Hat, Keri Vaughn.

This photo was taken at Cedar Heights. Posing in the library with the Keri Vaughn, The Cat in the Hat, are Mandy Rowley and Connie Wise. The school had a 50's day celebration in honor of the Cat's 50th birthday this year.

The next picture was taken at Highland Park. With Keri and me are Golda Duncan and Sherry Cozens.

This picture was taken at Horace Mann with teachers Cindy Brown, Lynette Balch, and Patsy McIlvain.