The start of a new school year is here. It may be a few weeks for some, but is just days away for Oklahoma City Public Schools. We haven’t seen much positive news around education in our state in the past months, and so much of it is politicized and divisive.
More:How will you support Oklahoma City students this school year?
For those residents who want to stay out of the scrum and in the direct work of providing support to kids, teachers and schools, here are just five of many ways to do that right now and throughout the year:
- Whether you are in Oklahoma City, Moore, Edmond, Putnam City or any district in the state, support your local education foundation. These organizations are doing meaningful work on behalf of their school districts. And, be sure to ask about Senate Bill 1080, which allows for tax credits for donations to specific innovative programs.
- Support a teacher by going to DonorsChoose.org. On Aug. 9, Bill Gates is providing all projects posted on DonorsChoose a 50% boost. That means a $20 donation will become a $30 donation, a $100 donation will become a $150 donation and so on. All year long, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation offers a $250 KICKSTART to district teachers’ first funded project of the school year. DonorsChoose is a tangible way to support teachers and allow them to post projects for what they need and want for their classrooms. It’s easy, efficient and accountability is built in.
- Coat-A-Kid in Oklahoma City Public Schools for just $20 per coat. There are a lot of families who are struggling and a lot of kids who would be going to school without a winter coat without this program. Donate at www.okckids.com.
- Sign up to be an OKCPS Foundation Reading Buddy, volunteer on the ReadOKC On the Go Mobile Book Bus or join the ReadOKC Task Force. This reading/literacy initiative is making a difference in OKC district schools by encouraging and promoting reading every day.
- While this could be viewed as political, it’s really among the purest forms of supporting your schools: Advocate for your local school district’s bond passage. Oklahoma City Public Schools will likely have a bond election on the ballot in November that will be larger than any proposed in recent history. Investing in your schools is like investing in your city or in your business. One-hundred-year-old school buildings cannot be maintained and updated to offer the modern learning systems required today. Surrounding school districts and their communities have realized that investing pays off now and in the future.
Public education is about providing equitable opportunities for all students. The vast majority of children in Oklahoma attend public schools, and funding for public education doesn’t need to be a political football. It’s also important to note that the vast majority of educators and administrators working in public education simply want to provide an education and support for the kids in their care. Period.
More:Funding for public schools is not enough to cover all the needs
Mary Mélon-Tully is president and CEO of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation.