Morning Bell: Teachers driving the conversation on a possible strike
Good Monday morning! Sysco Corp. paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit from Yukon Public Schools and a summit this week looks to address childhood trauma.
But first, there's a lot of talk about Oklahoma teachers walking off the job this year, which would be the first teachers strike since 1990.
However, if teachers do strike in the coming weeks, it might just be based on a grassroots effort on social media, rather than the union-led effort 28 years ago.
Teacher unions in Oklahoma are discussing a work stoppage, and a leader with the state's largest union called a strike "possible, if not probable," just a few weeks ago.
However, thousands of teachers have increased conversations on social media and in person about what a strike would look like and when it would happen.
The Tulsa World's Andrea Eger recently wrote about the growing conversation among teachers, which you can read here.
Social media, which obviously didn't exist in 1990, is becoming an important communication tool, and if districts and unions end up backing a strike they might be following the lead of teachers who are forcing it.
“I don't think (the union) is moving as fast as we like," said Heather Reed, a teacher at Lee Elementary in Oklahoma City. "I think they are being pushed into it because we are ready and we have to make it happen."
If a strike happens the union might (probably will) be very involved. But it's important to note the digital grassroots effort that is taking place now and will be important to remember when opponents paint this as the union leading a political fight.
More and more teachers, including some who participated in the 1990 strike, say it's time to do it again. Most schools enter spring break in two weeks and there seems to be a sense of urgency to have something decided before then.
Raising Resilient Oklahomans! Summit
Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of young children with adverse experiences, such as domestic violence, sexual assault and poverty.
A summit is scheduled for this Wednesday that will focus on addressing that reality.
“How do you build a resilient community?” asked Craig Knutson, president of the Potts Family Foundation. “Well, there are certain things that you can do and we need to come together to talk about it.”
Hosted by the Potts Family Foundation, the Raising Resilient Oklahomans! Summit will be held March 7 at the Hilton Garden Inn and Edmond Conference Center, 2833 Conference Drive in Edmond.
Cherokee Nation sends $5.4 million to schools
One hundred and eight northeast Oklahoma school districts received an infusion of much-needed cash from the Cherokee Nation on Friday.
The tribe allocates 38 percent of its annual car tag revenue — about $5.4 million this year — to public education, spreading the funds out across 14 northeast Oklahoma counties, reports The Oklahoman's Justin Wingerter.
“Year after year, the dollars from the tribe's car tag compact serve as a lifeline to local school districts that are struggling financially to meet the educational needs of our youth," said Bill John Baker, the tribe's principal chief.
Renaming Tulsa schools
Tulsa Public Schools has recommended that the TPS school board consider renaming four elementary schools — Jackson, Chouteau, Columbus and Lee.
Those are the four schools out of 80-plus district sites that Superintendent Deborah Gist wants the board to consider renaming, reports the Tulsa World. She has also asked that the board examine the name of a vacant north Tulsa lot named for American industrialist Henry Ford.
The decision marks another turn in a months-long process undertaken by the district to evaluate the names of its buildings and the historical context around those names.
Sysco settles with Yukon schools
Sysco Corp. paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit in which Yukon Public Schools officials accused the company of overcharging the district for food purchased for school cafeterias, records reveal.
School and Sysco officials had entered into a nondisclosure agreement regarding the settlement, but both sides agreed to waive confidentiality and release the settlement in response to an Open Records Act request by The Oklahoman, attorneys said.
In light of the settlement, State Auditor Gary Jones said he would recommend that school districts and other governmental entities have their auditors check for compliance with food contracts if they have done business with Sysco, and perhaps even other food vendors.
Former teacher facing rape charges
A former Oklahoma teacher who is facing rape charges has pleaded not guilty. 42-year-old Tasha McCuan, a former elementary school teacher in Kingston, Oklahoma, is facing three counts of second degree rape, reports KFOR.
That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Monday!