The Norman Transcript

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April 1, 2013

Parents form committee supporting education

NORMAN — Norman parents interested in taking a stand on education policy in Oklahoma have a new resource in the Parents Legislative Action Committee, whose first Norman meeting was Thursday evening at the Nancy O’Brian Performing Arts Center.

Originally launched by parents of Jenks Public Schools concerned about downward trends in funding and policy, PLAC is slowly gaining ground as a statewide movement generating public school parents’ direct advocacy to legislators.

“The neat thing about PLAC is that it provides an opportunity to be on the front end of the discussion, instead of asking questions at the school retrospectively. Parents can provide input before a law gets passed and affects their local school,” said Melissa Abdo, Tulsa PLAC coordinator. “When a parent takes time out of their day to contact a legislator or visit the Capitol, it makes a difference — these people aren’t lobbyists, they’re people who deal with the kids on the receiving end of these policies.”

Approximately 80 parents, teachers and administrators attended the inaugural Norman PLAC meeting and were presented a comprehensive summary of Oklahoma’s shrinking education budget and concerning legislation currently under consideration at the Capitol provided by Megan Benn, outreach coordinator for the Oklahoma Policy Institute, and Ryan Owens, general counsel director of legislative services for the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration.

“When you look at what schools have been going through over the past few years with all the different areas that are hurting, it’s scary and hard to see how they’ve been doing it lately,” Benn said. “I really do believe that our legislators and governor understand that our schools are facing hard times right now and they need and want to hear from parents right now. It’s the time to let them know what you’re concerned about or experiencing.”

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