For two weeks, Blanchard Public Schools were shut down as teachers swarmed the Capitol in Oklahoma City to demand more school funding and higher raises.
They didn’t get what they wanted. But they got a huge wake-up call on how the Legislature actually works.
It’s a lesson that Blanchard Superintendent Jim Beckham wants students to witness, too.
“Our teachers are in the process of taking field trips each day to Oklahoma City … taking groups of students each day not to lobby lawmakers, but just to view the legislative process,” Beckham said.
“There were teachers that actually did not know what happens at the Capitol when bills are drafted and made into law. They can explain to students how that happened. Kids need to see how that happened.”
The first busload of students — a group of seniors — arrived at the Capitol on Monday, the first day of classes since the walkout.
Beckham’s goal is to get every Blanchard student to the Capitol before the end of the school year, which has been extended several days due to the walkout.
He realizes the walkout was a hardship for some parents who had to scramble to find day care plans. But he said about 90% of the parental feedback he’s received has been positive, as students feel the pinch of tight budgets every day.
“Our class sizes in our schools have increased in the past 10 years from an average of 22 to 23 students to 30 and over,” Beckham said. “It’s simply because we can’t pay for the number of teachers to keep the number of students low.”