Posted Friday, March 27, 2015
Wow what a wild week it's been! It all started on Tuesday when my recommendation to close school on Monday, March 30, for the education rally in Oklahoma City was approved by the board of education. I feel this rally is important and critical to call our legislators' attention to the needs of public education in the state; that was why I made the recommendation. I applaud the support the board members gave in passing the recommendation -- it shows they, like us, understand the importance of the rally to Oklahoma's children.
Those plans were unfortunately undone by the damage done by Wednesday's tornado and its associated storm, which forced me to close schools on Thursday. It was the right decision to make. A number a Tulsa Public Schools sites had power outages, downed trees or power lines, and a score of other issues that prevented them being safe environments for students to be around. When I made the decision to close school for Thursday, 10 schools had no power and two more went out over that night. The idea of closing only the affected schools was considered but dismissed since several of them served as bus hubs and students on their way to an open school Thursday morning would likely encounter potentially dangerous storm debris. Based on these events, it was not wise to move past our allotted five snow days for this year just for teachers to attend the rally. TPS students cannot afford to lose another day of instruction time after Thursday.
I can't emphasize enough how important the rally is. To that end, I am working carefully to ensure that we have as much teacher representation as possible without sacrificing the quality of our students' instruction. Specifically, I support up to two to three teachers attending the rally on behalf of each school, but I encourage teachers to work with principals to be sure we have adequate coverage on Monday.
Please note that teachers attending the rally on behalf of their school must use a personal day. This is a legal requirement, not my personal decision. The law is clear that any teacher attending the rally must use a personal day. I myself am using a personal day to attend the rally, and I look forward to seeing as many wonderful TPS teachers as we can muster in these extreme conditions.