By CHRIS EVERSOLE
Mustang Public Schools are preparing the planned April 2 that the Oklahoma Education Association has called – with the support of individual board of education members and many parents.
Representatives of the Mustang Education Association, representing teachers in the school district, spoke at Monday’s board meeting, and board members responded with words of encouragement for the teachers’ quest for more state funding of education.
Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel said the district is working with other schools to keep sports and other extracurricular activities going if a walkout occurs.
He pledged to hold a commencement ceremony, even if students haven’t completed their credits by the scheduled date of May 18.
McDaniel noted that 15 to 18 churches had contacted him about providing sacked lunches to students and other help during a walkout.
“Doesn’t that tell you a lot about our community?” he asked.
MEA President Mark Webb, who also is the co-teacher of the year for Mustang High School, noted that funding for school programs has not increased over the past 10 years.
He pointed to the Mock Trial Team, which just won sixth place in state competition but does not receives any funding from the school district.
“Our leadership does the best it can to keep up, but it can’t do everything,” he said.
As Webb finished his comments, teachers attending the board meeting applauded.
Board member Chad Schroeder was strong in his views.
“Whatever they (the teachers) need to do, I fully support them,” he said.
Board members Dr. Jim Davis, Stacy Oldham and Jeff Landrith made similar statements, while board President Chad Fulton did not comment.
MEA Vice President Carnie Cullen told the Mustang News that 97 percent of the organization’s 400 members indicated they were behind the walkout.
“Parents have told me and emailed me in support,” she said.
The recent success of a teachers’ walkout in West Virginia was encouraging to her. “It gave confidence we can do it,” she said.
The OEA has threatened a statewide walkout unless the Oklahoma Legislature makes significant funding increases for education before April 3.
The discussion of the proposed walkout came at the end of a nearly three-hour board meeting devoted mainly to celebrating the district’s academic success.
Officials pointed to a study by Stanford University of school nationwide.
It showed that Mustang was second only to Stillwater among 13 districts in its peer group in student progress.
Mustang was in the 83rd percentile in student progress, meaning that 82 percent of districts nationwide fall below it.
Assistant Superintendent Tracy Skinner emphasized that the district is focusing on helping students develop analytic skills that today’s achievement tests emphasize and that are important to succeeding in college and in life.
“Our level of rigor in preparing for assessment has stepped up,” she said. “We’re teaching our students to be true problem-solvers.”