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Loveless’ Education Policies need a Mechanic

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Senator Kyle Loveless posted on Facebook, “My opinion piece in the Oklahoman about Educational freedom” attached was this article. If you’re reading this, chances are you know how I feel about Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) or vouchers.

But what really irks me about this particular post is that in his article, he compares his envisioned education market with the competitive market of the car service industry: “When my car breaks down, I don’t do business with the closest mechanic to my home. I find the mechanic who can provide the best service and repair for my money.” He goes on to say that he is “proposing legislation that allows qualified families to move their child from a public school and take up to 75 percent of the student’s funding with them.”

What I’d like to know (And I commented this on his Facebook post) is this:
Imagine that the closest mechanic to your home (We’ll call him/her Mechanic A) is fully funded and operated on tax dollars alone. Because it is funded by tax dollars, it is free to any and all who choose to use it. Those who reap its benefits pay nothing for its services.

And, of course, because it is funded by the state, there are strict accountability measures in place to determine whether or not it is operating up to par. (Mechanic A did get a C rating on its annual report card because its customers don’t pick their vehicles up in an adequate amount of time)

Now imagine the second mechanic (Mechanic B) is not associated with the government. It is a private entity. He/She charges $200 to fix your problem. With your government-issued 75% off coupon, that would be a $50 payment. (Notice that mechanic B is now making a profit AND receiving government money) Does someone living paycheck to paycheck have the extra money to spend $50 to Mechanic B?

Also note, that the customer has no idea, when comparing mechanics, if Mechanic B is worth it as B isn’t being held accountable by the same measurements that Mechanic A is.

So that begs the questions- Does the quality of the product of Mechanic A improve or suffer as a result of losing a portion of its funding to the mechanic who is able to profit off of its customers while Mechanic A is not? (Many would suggest that, in theory, Mechanic A’s output ought to improve because it’s now having to compete for customers.) However, it is now having to provide the same service to its customers without making any profit!

It’s output is supposed to stay the same, as its input decreases. Mechanic B appears to be successful because it is able to have shiny new tools and they have that complimentary coffee in the waiting room, and after all, Mechanic A does have a “C” rating. Must be nice to be able to afford that coffee with my tax dollars and not be held accountable for the type of service you put out (Would you believe that I saw someone left their car at the shop for three days after they got it serviced?? That is clearly poor service on the part of Mechanic B!) Mechanic A is clearly unable to offer (being a non-profit) what the other can offer with its combination of tax dollars and private dollars. Not a fair competition.

Recap: Mechanic A suffers a loss of its funding to Mechanic B who is halfway across town, (and therefore, not invested in its neighborhood/community) more expensive, not accountable for its work, and quite frankly, there to make a profit and not a difference.

Senator Loveless: This is your mechanic analogy- not mine. And it’s not a great one- you failed to realize that in real life- outside of the analogy- neither mechanic is funded by taxpayers entirely (as one of the mechanics in my story is- both make profits in your analogy) and that students are simply not customers, nor are they political pawns to progress a political agenda that benefits the wealthy and fails to work for the best interests of the average Oklahoman.

Are you prepared to hold all schools to the same level of accountability across-the-board?

If you can exert so much energy into getting taxpayer dollars to private schools, why can’t you get them into my classroom?

-M. Jayden Mills, Chickasha High Senior

 

 

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Not Voting.

Okay so although I have attempted to exempt myself from talking about national politics until after Nov. 8, I, like everyone else in the country, find it difficult to block out the discussion. Literally everywhere I look, I see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I constantly find myself in conversations with people who say things like, “It’s like voting for the lesser of two evils. I don’t even want to vote. I think I’m just going to stay home this year.” It’s very easy to get discouraged when you step back and you can’t wholeheartedly support either of the major political party’s candidates for President. However, this post is not about the Presidential election, and I want you to step back and see things from a different (or more local) perspective.

Please. Do. Not. Stay. Home.

I do not care who you support for POTUS 2016. I do however care whether or not you go to the polls on November 8th, 2016. Why? Because this isn’t just about the Presidency. This is about our state. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not the only words that will be printed on your ballot. You have other decisions to make! Don’t let the chaotic, disheartening media coverage of the Presidency prevent you from voting for very important, local offices. Because let’s get real for a minute: decisions being made on 23rd and Lincoln impact you and I a lot more than who gets to fight with Congress for the next 4 years. (Don’t get me wrong, the Presidency is important, but this is not my focus because what I’m talking about gets left out / understated too often)

Here’s some questions people have asked me:

So how do I know what else will be on my ballot?
The Oklahoma Online Voter Tool has a feature that allows you not only to view your sample ballot, but also to find where you will vote, and all you have to do is click here.

What are the State Questions and how do I choose yes or no?
Here’s a great website to help you better understand the State Q’s. It provides the facts for the SQ, but also includes links to websites of proponents and opponents for each Question!
If you’d like to know my opinion, private message me!

What if I can’t make it on election day?
1. Deadline to request absentee ballot:
5 p.m. November 2 (request absentee ballots online)
2. Early voting:
Thursday, November 3, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, November 4, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 5, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This election is important. Please use your voice in local matters. Please vote for people in local offices that have education’s best interests in mind (Not just the ones who say they have education’s best interests in mind) Yes, there’s a difference- ask me who they are if you want. In my District, District 56, David Perryman is by far the candidate who will make you and I a priority. And there are good people like him running for office across the state. Friend them on Facebook. Follow their Twitter account. Email them and ask them questions. But whatever you do, Vote. And #VoteEducation

Panem et Circenses

Those of you who have read the Hunger Games are familiar with the title of this post and probably already know what’s coming. If you’re not familiar with the Hunger Games, let me try to give a brief synopsis. The famed trilogy is about a nation whose citizens are required to sacrifice two of their own, age 12-18, from their respective “districts” (similar to states) -who most likely will not return alive (as only one person out of the 24 does return)- solely for the entertainment of the rest of the nation Ruling Class.

Now before drawing judgements, let me tell you that Suzanne Collins is not just inhumane. Her purpose in writing this series is not just to entertain readers with a story about children dying. She makes her point clear in Chapter 16, Mocking Jay-Hunger Games Part 3:

“’Panem et Circenses’ translates into ‘Bread and Circuses.’ The writer was saying that in return for full bellies and entertainment, his people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power.”

Sound familiar?

So now, what’s my purpose? My purpose is this: we have the power, as Americans, as Oklahomans, to effect change. We have the power to choose- to choose not to be distracted by bread and circuses, but to maintain our political responsibilities and take possession of the power that is ours.

I think it’s clear how this relates to Public Education. This has been and will continue to be a fight in Oklahoma. Many in Oklahoma are beginning to take possession of the power that is theirs by running for office. Teachers like Mickey Dollens, Mike Mason, and Kelly Meredith are all running for office as pro-public education candidates- “the Teacher Caucus”

A week from today is Oklahoma’s Primary Election Day. This primary is going to be paramount to Oklahoma’s Public Schools and ultimately, Oklahoma’s future.

Oklahoma’s Online Voter Tool is the best resource to find your polling place and identify the candidates who will be on your Primary Ballot on Tuesday. Questions about your candidates? Most will have Facebook pages, or you can google their names for their campaign website!

Giving up our political responsibilities means we give up our power. Let’s take responsibility. Let’s take back our power. The movement starts on Tuesday, and it starts with you.

This election is important. Please vote. Vote education.

 

The Cost to Our Future

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Legislators,

My name is Jayden Mills. I am currently a junior in the Chickasha Public Schools district. I have attended Chickasha Public Schools since Pre-K. Everything I am and everything I’ve been and everything I stand for and everything I do can be linked back to some part of my roots at Chickasha Public Schools. I walk the halls of my school each and every day with a smile on my face. My mantra- “Positive thoughts yield positive results.”

 

Each and every day, I see the results of underfunded public schools. I see teachers who purchase their supplies for their own classrooms. I see teachers who have put money into their college education so that they can now put money into my high school education. I see students who take core classes online because we simply do not have enough teachers to teach the classes necessary. (I’m one of them and with a 4.0 GPA, I’m still struggling and yearning for the interaction that exists within a traditional classroom) I see teachers who struggle to do their job because there are thirty-five students in their too-small classroom. I see students who struggle to experience real, deep, genuine learning because there are thirty-five students in their too-small classroom. I see the stress in the teachers, administrators, faculty, and yes, students each time we see a cut to education in our state budget. I see the loss of desktop printers in my teachers’ classrooms (The inconvenience in that ought to be obvious), the loss of funds in my choir department, the loss of funds in my peers’ theater and band departments, and the loss of legitimate education during the entire month of April each year because of the obstacle that is End Of Instruction tests.

 

I have read HB 2949 and SB 609. I have studied material- from both sides- regarding Education Savings Accounts and I am obligated by everything mentioned in the second paragraph to ask you to please not further the damage done to my public school and public schools all across the state of Oklahoma by voting yes to vouchers. Vouchers will divert more funds from my school, from our schools. We cannot take another cut in funds. We cannot lose another teacher to a better paying state. We cannot see another teacher empty his wallet into his classroom. We cannot have another student taking Trigonometry on the Internet. We cannot add another student into my 6th hour class. We cannot see another student drop out because he can’t be successful with the current teacher to student ratio. We cannot lose another luxury like Expo markers. We cannot lose another fine arts class. We cannot lose another day of hands-on, deep-thinking classroom interaction because we have to take tests that don’t reflect who we are as students, as Oklahomans, and as people.

 

We cannot afford to give money that we don’t have to privately owned education models that revolve only around money, and not Oklahoma’s students. We cannot afford to give money that we don’t have to schools that are not held accountable by the same standards to which our public schools are. Our future cannot afford it.

 

Choking someone out and then claiming that they are no longer successful because of their inability to breathe is wrong. Listen to my teachers- they see my friends and me every day. They cry for me, laugh with me, joke with me, they are proud of me, and they love me. And the same goes for them with my peers.  Let them be a voice for us.

 

Please support our public schools. Please support my public school. Positive actions yield positive results.

 

Please vote no on HB 2949 and SB 609. Our future cannot afford it.

 

Jayden Mills

Chickasha Public School Junior

It’s your choice

Tomorrow is an important day in the life of our Democracy. Super Tuesday will begin in Oklahoma at 7am and polls will close at 7pm. If you’re thinking about voting, but not sure where you vote or what party you’re registered as click here, and follow the steps! If you’re thinking about not voting in the President Preferential Primary because you don’t like any of the candidates (Because, really, it’s difficult to find a good one), don’t let that stop you! It is still essential that you make your voice heard! Need more info? Information about presidential candidates can be found here plus this quiz can help!

Choices

“When you have a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” -William James

Each American has a choice every election. By not voting, you are making a choice (And potentially, you’re absence in voting can make just as much of a difference in a candidate’s win as your presence in voting could have!) 58.3% of Oklahomans made a choice in November 2014- they chose not to have a voice. Think about the candidate you dislike most- if you miss voting, you could elect them with your absence!

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Don’t be a political mime- you have a voice and you’ve got the chance to use it! Don’t forget to vote tomorrow regardless of the candidate you choose!

Chickasha residents- Tomorrow you vote in a general election for Mayor and City Council! I ask that you please think deeply about the future of the community of Chickasha and think about the candidates who will lead Chickasha to success.

The Future is in Our Hands

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I have enjoyed school since the day I stepped foot into Head-Start at age four. The trend had set- I love school. By Pre-Kindergarten, I was wearing ties to school to match my role model and teacher, Mr. Jeffries. First grade, I got a dry-erase board- I remember going home to “play school” in my bedroom where I had “students”, and “worksheets” and “play areas.” I always enjoyed helping my teachers out by writing on the board, changing the date, or stapling papers. (You know, all the fun stuff!) Then, by middle school, I enjoyed office-aiding. My freshman year, I began participating in #oklaed online chats which I still participate in now. These chats have opened my eyes and my opportunities in unbelievable ways. I have had the opportunity to chat about education with educators, administrators, students, politicians, and others who are passionate about education across the state. My love for learning, my awareness of education’s impact, and my motivation for public schools have been forever affected by #oklaed.

Talking to people from all of education’s corners has given me insight and challenged me to be involved. And this is how I’m doing it- I will continue to follow and participate in #oklaed chats every Sunday evening at eight. I will be an avid learner, always willing to take in information because that it the only way to be able to understand public education and its status in our state. I will have an open mind because, of course, simply learning information is useless unless you choose to let it change you- being open minded is the only way you can communicate with people and be productive. I will respond to change with a positive attitude because, does responding any other way actually accomplish anything? I will pay attention to what is going on in our legislature, especially to that which pertains to public education. I will vote. (As soon as I’m legally able) And vote. And vote every time there is the opportunity because I understand that There is no way I can be represented in my government if I choose not to represent myself in the voting booth.

We must find ways to be active. Because right now, your state legislature is getting ready to give money from Public Education to private schools (with no accountability) in the form of education savings accounts. Because right now, your state government continues to make monetary cuts that are damaging the quality of education Oklahoma students receive in more ways than one. If you’re a parent, then these are your children. And if you’re a student, then it’s you. But regardless of your relation to education- if you’re an Oklahoman, then this is your future.

If you’re not registered, register. Whether you register a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, please register and please vote. And vote education.

Be aware. Be active. This is our future.

-Jayden Mills

Chickasha Junior

Vouchers and The Public School; A letter to Oklahoma Senators regarding SB 609

Attached below is a copy of the letter I sent to every Oklahoma Senator expressing my concerns in regards to SB 609 which would enable parents to fund their child’s private/charter school education using Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) containing Oklahoma taxpayer dollars:


Senators,

I urge you to please vote no on SB 609.

I ask for various reasons:

There is a significant lack of accountability in these programs. Oklahoma taxpayer dollars will be sent to Private schools without any measure of improvement in the individual’s education.

Although the argument has been made that vouchers will allow for parent “choice,” this idea of choice is false. Private schools are not required to accept all children, as Public schools are and they can choose to turn down children for numerous reasons (Enrollment limits, religion-based education).

These vouchers will expand the amount of schools that Oklahomans will be funding; they will be funding not only Public schools but Private schools as well. It makes sense that we should put all education funding toward improving the schools that accept all Oklahoma children. It is the duty of Oklahoma legislators to “establish and maintain a system of free public schools wherein all children of the State may be educated” (Article 13, Section 1, Oklahoma Constitution) To maintain these schools, they must be funded properly. Underfunding has and can continue to take its toll on Oklahoma schools by reducing amount of teachers in a school which in turn increases the amount of students in a classroom. Multiple sources of evidence prove that large class sizes have negative effects on student performance.

It should be the mission of all Oklahoma leaders to make the public schools of Oklahoma the best in the Nation. This cannot be done by making our Public Schools weaker.

As an Oklahoma student, I am urging you to please invest tax dollars into improving our public schools and the education of public school students. Please choose all students. Please vote No on SB 609.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

M. Jayden Mills
​Sophomore Student​

The emails for each Senator can be found on the link:

http://www.oksenate.gov/Senators/Default.aspx?selectedtab=0

I found it is easier to open the list as an Excel spreadsheet and copy and paste them to the address bar.

I urge you to please write/call the Senators- not just your senator- and ask them to choose ALL Oklahoma children by voting No on SB 609.