Superintendent issues letter supporting Education Rally at Capitol

Ponca City Now - March 25, 2015 1:48 pm

RALLY AT THE STATE CAPITOL

URGENT!

Ponca City Schools Superintendent Dr. David Pennington is sending a letter home to the parents of students in the district about the March 30 Rally at the State Capitol. Following is the content of his letter:

Dear Faculty, Staff, Parents & Students:

The Ponca City Public School Board of Education unanimously voted to support my recommendation to cancel school on Monday, March 30, to allow people to attend the Rally at the Capitol for Public Education . Despite the incredible accomplishments of our students and staff so far this year, Ponca City Public Schools is currently faced with monumental challenges. 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 Ponca City 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 canceled school and provided an opportunity for anyone to attend the Rally at the Capitol for Public Education . Ponca City was represented by about 150 to 200 people at the Rally, including teachers, administrators, support staff, parents and students.

Our attendance made a difference in legislation that was approved. This year, our goal is to send 500 people from Ponca City. 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 Ponca City, 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 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.

How can I be a part of the rally?

  • The designated parking area for those who drive to Oklahoma City will again be at Remington Park. Shuttle buses will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rally will be on the steps on the south side of the Capitol.
  • The rally program will start at 12:30 p.m. If you attended last year, you know that you probably want to arrive on the south side of the Capitol around 11:30 a.m. For those who get to the Capitol early, this year’s organizers are encouraging participants to go into the Capitol and meet with their State Representative and State Senator before the rally.
  • For those of you who wish to schedule an appointment Monday morning, Rep. Steve Vaughan’s phone number is 405-557-7355 and Sen. Fields’ phone number is 405-521-5581. Rep. Vaughan’s office is in room #335 and Sen. Fields’ is #530.

Thank you for all you do for the students and families of Ponca City.

Sincerely,

Dr. David Pennington, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Ponca City Public Schools

WE WILL RALLY

  • We will rally so that the Legislature and the Governor make Public Education a Priority by creating a sustained funding plan.
  • W e will rally so that the Legislature and the Governor increase teacher pay to the regional average.
  • We will rally to let the Legislature and the Governor know that the frequency and way we test students MUST be changed.
  • We will rally to appeal to the Legislature and the Governor to suspend all unfunded or underfunded reform mandates until appropriate input from the experts in the field along with adequate funding is realized.
 

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