Needed: A road map for change
Tourism became a focal point in Johnston County when Miranda Lambert opened the Pink Pistol in Tishomingo. People were on Main Street daily visiting shops and dining in local restaurants. Not surprisingly, they were asking why alcoholic beverages were not available.
A leadership group called Tishomingo Area Projects Committee began discussing the issue, and after several meetings, reluctantly recommended that a committee be formed to pursue the passage of liquor by the drink in Johnston County. That was followed by a process to allow a countywide vote. The proposal was submitted to the county commissioners and passed 2-1. The citizens of Johnston County then passed the resolution by a 62 percent margin.
This is a good example of deciding controversial issues at the local level. The same can be done to solve significant education problems.
The Legislature has approved Senate Bill 1493, Senate Bill 1169 and House Bill 2115, which are designed to encourage school consolidation and provide significant financial assistance. The voluntary consolidation portion allows for a local petition to be forwarded to the state superintendent who, in turn, notifies the county election board to call for a vote. These new laws are good but lack sufficient structure.
The law needs one more step that would provide an opportunity for citizens to initiate change. That step would involve a process for individual citizens or groups to be able to contact the state superintendent to request the appointment of an official entity that would have state-recognized authority to advise boards of education of a petition request and to construct a foundation to circulate a petition.
The additional law could allow the petition process to address options such as consolidating schools, designating countywide school boards, setting guidelines on superintendent salaries, etc. This step would provide a clear process to petition and vote independent of undue influence or political maneuvering by superintendents and school boards. It would give citizens power and authority to attempt change.
Many Oklahoma families want to raise the academic bar and provide quality education for their children and grandchildren. This proposal is worth considering. Give the citizens a road map for change, and let’s see what happens.
Greene, of Tishomingo, taught 20 years at the University of Oklahoma in the College of Education, focusing primarily on human resources and training and development.