I fully and unequivocally support these young adults who have involved themselves in the political process through continued and organized pressure on adults and elected officials to address gun violence. Not only are the students from Parkland, Florida, exercising their freedom of speech and assembly rights, but we’re witnessing a movement across the country of young people who are fed up with excuses and inaction.
I value democracy and the process that empowers even school children to bring about change when they feel their rights are not being protected. And I do believe these young people have every right to demand safety. They also have the right to demand their schools be adequately funded — a challenge not unique to Oklahoma, but especially severe.
Never again should a child be afraid at school. Never again should elected officials bury their heads in the sand while they sit in a Capitol building equipped with metal detectors and armed guards at every entrance and guards in the parking lots.
Leaders need to lead. We need massive increases in school funding for school security, teacher pay raises, and better learning materials. Oklahoma leads the nation in cuts to our schools, while at the same time increasing tax giveaways to movie stars and corporations that aren't even headquartered in our state.
I can’t emphasize this enough: I fully support teachers and students who demand safety and better funding. The democratic process is not only for a privileged few. It’s everyone’s privilege as well as responsibility to act when they believe their rights are being threatened or neglected.
We adults have many duties to our children, but the most basic are to keep them safe and ensure they’re educated and prepared for the future.
Former state Representative and father of
children enrolled in public schools