NORMAN — Oklahoma County DA David Prater, a former Norman police officer and a proud product with me of Jefferson Elementary, Central Junior High and Norman High School, comes from a family of educators. He knows that money spent on the front end of a child’s life will pay dividends down the road.
A child that can’t read on grade level is 60 percent more likely to end up in Prater’s criminal justice system. He told Norman Public School Foundation supporters this past week that education literally saves lives.
The NPSF started in 1984 when Norman residents came together and pledged $1,000 each to begin funding grants for teachers. Only the interest is used and to date, about $1.5 million in grants have been made to educators.
Prater told of meeting with 21 gang members inside an Oklahoma City church. There were more than a dozen murderers among them. Most had dropped out of school and readily found acceptance in the gang culture. Some tried to come back and graduate but were frustrated they were so far behind other students.
“Keeping kids in school and teaching them to read improves lifestyles and the community and literally saves lives,” he said, adding teachers shouldn’t have to be fundraisers to provide supplies and classroom enrichment.
My generation’s formal education about pop culture, Watergate and history has always been supplemented by Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic strips. He began drawing the strip in 1970 and it became a regular at my home.
It was at Walden Puddle where we first met Mike, Mark, B.D., Zonker, Joanie and the whole gang. The strip was most liberal and controversial, blurring the lines between the editorial page cartoons and the comics. Some newspapers dropped him when readers complained. Our complaints here at The Transcript came when the strip got left out of the day’s papers.