(In response to "Questioning the Possible" in the April 29-May 5 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Matt (Nelson), excellent and interesting article. Having grown up in a Christian church, it was frowned upon to press issues that couldn't be answered simply because of indifference or mostly lack of proper knowledge.
Having come to terms with my faith, as I became more educated I became more spiritual and less religious. My friendships with people more spiritual and educated also became much more interesting and rewarding.
If you decide to write any related articles in the future, I would like to offer this info: Today's religious programming simply takes the view of "God has a plan." Too simplistic anymore for our evolving Christian minds that now refuse to live their lives on cruise control. Additionally, those seeking religious education now have unthinkable information at their fingertips.
We have an encyclopedia of gods including a proper name and description of the very god we worship. My hope is that soon the name of our God will become mainstream and people will recognize and rationally discuss the "personalities" we give gods in order to relate to them. The Greeks and Romans (and others) did this in peace for many centuries.
I have four children, three of whom will be attending Tulsa Public Schools next year. I fear it will be a dismal, disappointing year for all three of them.
My oldest, a freshman at Edison High School this year, will be losing his orchestra teacher, Mr. Greenwood. Edison High School Orchestra took first in the nation at a nationwide invitational in Chicago this year under Mr. Greenwood's direction.
My daughter has thrived under the care of Mrs. King, her first grade teacher at Hoover Elementary this year. I am concerned about her education next year ... Hoover stands to lose several talented, energetic, innovative teachers.
My son, who will be starting kindergarten at Hoover, faces the same unknowns ... increasing class size, no opportunities for enrichment, fine arts, fewer resources and a lower educational benchmark.
I am certain that as things stand today, my youngest daughter, now just a year old, won't have the same educational opportunities in Tulsa that her oldest brother benefitted from. How sad that we are moving backward in this critical area.
Please act now to preserve the future of Oklahoma by protecting education from further budget cuts in the coming fiscal year.
Oklahoma already ranks among the bottom states in the nation when it comes to per pupil expenditures for public schools.
Teachers in Oklahoma already earn roughly $10,000 per year less than the national average teacher salary.
Why would our best and brightest college students want to become teachers in Oklahoma under such conditions? And how can we expect the best out of our children if we fail to provide them with the best possible education?
Budget cuts in the 2009-10 fiscal year forced school districts to cut costs to the bare bones. Tulsa Public Schools has fought to preserve the classroom by slashing 125 central service and administrative positions, imposing furlough days for non-classroom employees, freezing non-classroom spending and travel. School districts simply cannot continue to preserve the classroom without decisive action from the state legislature.
Today, TPS faces the very real possibility of losing 286 new, bright, enthusiastic, talented and effective teachers. Oklahoma college students preparing to graduate with education degrees must be shaking in their shoes at the prospect of not having a job in their home state. The best and brightest high school graduates entering college might not consider majoring in education because the future of education in Oklahoma appears so bleak.
Show Oklahoma and the nation that you value children and stop cutting education. The future of this great state is in your hands.
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