Black Church Leaders in Oklahoma Charge that Public Education is Failing Children in State’s Poorest Areas

Reverend Ray Douglas
Reverend Ray Douglas

A group of black church leaders that believes public education is failing communities with the poorest and most vulnerable children is calling on state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi and her six challengers to address their concerns.

The group, which includes leaders from Oklahoma’s largest networks of black denominations, has invited Barresi and her challengers to meet with them individually and then collectively June 8 during an “accountability session” at Oklahoma City University.

“These kids are the people who are going to have to be our leaders and take care of us in the future,” said the Rev. Ray Douglas, senior pastor at Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church in northeast Oklahoma City. “The future is in their hands, and it has to be in educated hands if we’re going to survive and prosper.”

Leaders who met Wednesday said they are deeply troubled by high dropout rates and their relationship to growing incarceration rates, funding inequities, high-stakes testing and A-F grading and the negative effect it has “on our children, our schools and our communities.”

“They’re being taught to test and not to learn,” Douglas said. “They’re not being taught critical thinking skills that they are going to need to make wise choices in the future.”

The forum is sponsored by Voices Organized in Civic Engagement (VOICE), a coalition of 27 congregations and non-profit groups that work together on issues facing families in the Oklahoma City metro area.

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Source: The Oklahoman | Tim Willert

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