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March 29, 2013

Group will empower parents as lobbyists

NORMAN — When K-12 education issues come up at the Capitol — which is usually every day — the usual suspects are at the table. They include representatives of the state Department of Education, paid lobbyists for teacher groups, administrator groups and legislators themselves.

Missing are the parents who are usually busy working somewhere during the time those issues are debated. That issue was addressed in Tulsa several years ago, and a Parent Legislative Action Committee was formed.

The concept has expanded to several areas of the state. Thursday night, parents gathered in Norman to form the PLAC of Central Oklahoma. There are no paid lobbyists or staff members. It is parent driven and includes residents of many school districts.

The parents want to volunteer their citizen energies on education policy issues. These include funding, curriculum, teaching standards and other areas that directly impact their children’s lives. Norman parent Megan Benn is the driving force for the Central Oklahoma PLAC. She has students at Washington Elementary.

Lawmakers will likely pay more attention to these parent volunteers. They are voters, are organized and can quickly mobilize to address an issue. Their only interest is their children’s education.

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