March 30th Rally at the Capitol
Dear Faculty, Staff, Parents & Students;
Last Monday night, the Mustang Board of Education unanimously voted to support my recommendation to cancel school on Monday, March 30th. Despite the incredible accomplishments of our students and staff so far this year, Mustang Public Schools is currently faced with monumental challenges. We have an opportunity to take part in the Rally at the Capitol for Public Education. It is imperative that we stand together, joining other teachers, students, administrators, parents and support staff from across the state. The stakes are as high as they have ever been for the future of Mustang Public Schools and public education in general. If we take advantage of this day off and show a united front at the Capitol, we can change some of the outcomes. If we choose to remain silent with a wait-and-see approach, we will be sorely disappointed. Ultimately, it is our students and our teachers who will suffer the most. We MUST act now.
Last year, we cancelled school and provided an opportunity for anyone to attend the Rally at the Capitol for Public Education. Mustang was represented by about 250-300 people at the rally, including teachers, administrators, staff, parents and students. Our attendance made a difference in legislation that was approved. This year, our goal is to send 1,000 people from Mustang. We can make a difference again and at no time has the situation been more dire than today.
What is the rally about and why would I want to attend?
- A few weeks ago the Board of Equalization certified $611 million fewer dollars compared to last year to be distributed to state agencies. Public schools are one of the state agencies that stand to see a reduction in funding. $611 million fewer dollars! Across the state, and certainly in Mustang, we already have class size issues, our teachers are underpaid, our per-pupil funding is cut annually by the state, we haven’t received operational increases in years….and the list goes on.
- Our students are over-tested. Our teachers spend on average about 3 ½ to 4 weeks every year either administering high-stakes tests or directly preparing for these tests. While we all understand the importance of assessment and the evaluation of a student’s progress, the punitive consequences attached to single tests have caused unacceptable levels of pressure and stress on teachers, students, families, and schools. Further, we know that testing does not equate to instruction. We need to give our teachers time back so that they can teach students; not over-test them.
- Over the course of the last four years, public schools have been inundated with reform after reform with inadequate teacher input and little to no funding to support the reforms. The Reading Sufficiency Act (3rd Grade Retention), the new teacher evaluation model, end-of-instruction exams, A-F grading, and many other reforms carry with them punitive consequences for teachers, students, and schools.
- Over the past several years, we have made cuts across our district. We have been able to do a good job of protecting the classroom in the process. We no longer have the luxury nor the ability to make additional reductions without affecting the classroom. Additional reductions will mean higher class sizes and fewer resources available to students and teachers. Again, we can change the conversation that is happening right now in the Legislature. We need you to show up on Monday, March 30th.
How can I be a part of the rally?
We will be taking buses from the west side of the high school student parking lot and returning to the lot after the rally. There is no charge to ride or to participate. If you can join us please email my secretary, Brenda Dunn at DunnBr@mustangps.org, to reserve a seat on one of our buses by Wednesday, March 25th. We will travel together to join the tens of thousands of other supporters at the Capitol as we make a stand in support of teachers, students, and public education. We are at a tipping point in Oklahoma regarding public education. Please consider joining our district at the rally.
Thank you for all you do for the students and families of Mustang.
Dr. Sean McDaniel, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools