a free workshop will be held to bring a better understanding of how Oklahoma’s legislative process works to prioritize and fund public education, as well as a review of various issues that impact a teacher’s ability to teach and a student’s ability to learn. The one-day advocacy workshop will be held October 19, 2018, in Nigh University Center’s Constitution Hall at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma.


During the ‘Teacher Walk Out’, many educators seemed surprised to learn about the inner workings of the political side of public education funding and expressed consternation to members of the legislature willing to listen to their concerns. One member of the legislature who heard those complaints and decided to do something about them was long time educator, state Rep. Ed Cannaday, (D-Porum), District 15.


“We want this to be a non-partisan event and I believe the agenda we’ve prepared reflects that aspect. I’ve been an educator most of my professional life and I had many visitors to my office during the ‘Teacher Walk Out’, a large number of whom were former students who are now teachers. Needless to say, their questions to me reflected a need to host some kind of advocacy training to help with the political side of civics.” explained Cannaday, whose office worked with the University of Central Oklahoma to produce the upcoming event. 


Questions put to Cannaday during the walk out dealt heavily with block voting records that seemed to indicate a coordinated effort by some to defund public education, causing teachers to ask, “Why?” 


“Rep. Monroe Nichols, (D-Tulsa), District 72, and I had previously scheduled an interim study to look into ways we could help with classroom funding by discovering non-traditional funding sources but Special Session interrupted progress with that study. Truly, finding ways to patch the problem isn’t what we wanted, anyway, so we reached out to UCO and they were so receptive. This workshop should serve to further an investigation into why our teachers are not paid to their value and why we have seen diminished investment and diminished returns, regarding public school classroom funding.”


When asked about the need for advocacy training for public school teachers and the taxpaying public, Rep. Nichols zeroed in on the word “public”.

“A strong, well-funded public education system is our greatest economic development asset. I believe our inability to adequately fund education over the last decade is one of the reasons our state economy lagged behind the rest of the country. At a time where we are still losing teachers to neighboring states and other professions, it is clear that addressing our needs in education starts with a strong, long-term commitment to invest in Oklahoma’s students and educators.” 

 “My goal is to empower teachers with information about how the Capitol operates so when advocating they not only feel comfortable in the building, but they also understand for themselves how the process works.”

Rep. Monroe Nichols represents north Tulsa and worked with Rep. Cannaday and UCO to sketch out important topics for the workshop. The advocacy training will include some history of how we have arrived at this point and tools for moving forward. 

“I think, unfortunately, some of this push back can be traced to a wave of anti-big government that has swept our nation. If one is unhappy with public school performance and out comes, address the issue, but to approach the problems with attrition tactics says to me that there is an agenda in play. Gutting public education funding is a threat to our democracy, as well as the economy and the health of our citizenry, not a means to prosperity.”  Nichols stated. 


“Rep. Cannaday and I would like to thank Dean Jim Machell and Dr. Jarret Jobe, as well as Professor Mark Kinders, UCO Vice President for Public Affairs Our original plan was to host this here in the House Chamber but we did not want the event perceived as partisan so UCO agreed to not only provide Constitution Hall but their team fleshed out the agenda to make it truly fact and evidence based and open to teachers and the public of all social and political beliefs. This is really about educating educators, regardless of political beliefs.” said Nichols.


510 seats are available. Those wishing to attend the advocacy training must register at UCO website’s workshop event page at

www.uco.edu/teachersadvocacyissuesforum . There is a $1.00 charge for parking on campus. Agenda below:


Teachers and the Legislature:  Advocacy and Issues

Friday, Oct. 19, 2018

University of Central Oklahoma

Nigh University Center

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.


9 a.m. Welcome and Purpose of the Workshop.  Constitution Hall. Dr. Mark Kinders, UCO Vice President for Public Affairs. 


9:15 a.m.  Oklahoma’s Political Heritage and K-12 Education.   Dr. Shawn Hime, Executive Director, Oklahoma State School Boards Association.  Oklahoma has a dynamic history that melds and conflicts differing cultural heritages, political philosophies, and personalities.  Mix in HB1017 (with the consequences of term limits and SQ680) and this creates a difficult channel to navigate for education in Oklahoma.  Moderator:  UCO Dean Jim Machell.


9:45 a.m. How a Bill Becomes a Law.  Caroline Dennis, Chief Operating Officer, Oklahoma State Senate; Jan Harrison, Chief Clerk of the House.  This session covers the nuts and bolts of the legislative process:  drafting and introducing legislation; Committees and bill assignment to committees; hearings and processes; deadlines; Oklahoma’s “title off” and “emergency” implications; floor debate and amending; conference committees; enrolling and engrossing; the Governor’s legislative review process. Moderator:  Dr. Jarrett Jobe.


10:15 a.m.  Break


10:30 a.m.  Where Do Legislators get their Policy Proposal on K-12 Education?  Moderator:  Dr. Lou Furmanski, Chair, Department of Political Science, UCO.  Each year scores of bills are introduced affecting the future of education in Oklahoma.  Who are the major Foundations, Stakeholders, and influencers that initiate these bills?  Who, among the dozens of stakeholders to K-12 education (e.g., school boards, teachers, parents, state government, Main Street, federal agencies) are the most influential and interested partners to education public policy positions?




Ms. Alicia Priest, President, Oklahoma Education Association. 

Dr. Pam Deering, Executive Director, Cooperative Council for Oklahoma State Administrators  

Dr. Shawn Hime, Executive Director, Oklahoma State School Boards Association 

Dr. Robyn Miller, Deputy Superintendent, Oklahoma State Department of Education 

Dr. Bryan Duke, Past President, Oklahoma Association of Colleges for Teacher Education 



11:30 a.m.  Takeaways for Good Statehouse Outcomes, Dr. Mark Kinders, UCO Vice President for Public Affairs; Pat Hall, Principal, Majority Plus    Legislative advocacy is a boilerplate process.  But every state has its own Statehouse culture that dictates do’s and don’ts.  This session will review the best practices for advocacy found in every Statehouse, and how to customize these to Oklahoma’s political environment.  Moderator:  Jim Dunlap, Principal, Majority Plus 


Noon:  Lunch.  Nigh University Center 19th Hole and 2nd Floor Commons


1 p.m.  Breakout Sessions.  Nigh Available Rooms: Carl Albert; Robert S. Kerr; Mary Fallin; Henry Bellmon; Room 316; Room 320; Room 320C.  Capacity ranges from 72-95 persons in theatre-style seating. 


  • Sessions are 25 minutes.  20 for presentation, 5 for Q&A.
  • Each session will be repeated at least one.


1 p.m. Session Breakout (one or more)


1:30 p.m.  Session Breakout (one or more)


2 p.m. Session Breakout (one or more)


2:30 p.m. Break


2:45 p.m.  Session Breakout (one or more)


3:15 p.m. Session Breakout (one or more)


3:45 p.m.  Concluding remarks.  


SESSION ONE:  Framing Public Policy Issues. Dr. Travis Roach, Economics Department, UCO.   In public policy, the problem you frame is the problem you solve.  Oklahoma’s teacher salaries were framed as the key issue, and a raise was provided.  But many other issues remain.  What are the dynamics of framing policy conversations from an economist’s perspective?  Moderator:  Jarrett Jobe.


SESSION TWO:  Hungry Students and Learning.  Petra Colindres, MA, RDN/LD, IBCLC.  Assistant Director, Breastfeeding Resource Center, Oklahoma State University  

Children’s test scores cannot be separated from children’s health. Healthy children learn better. Good nutrition is one component of health, and nutrition policies that focus on proper nutrition across the lifespan (prenatally, in infancy, in early childhood, and more) make an impact on a child’s ability to learn. Discover with our expert dietician and lactation consultant how policies that support breastfeeding and pumping at work or access to healthy, affordable foods in all neighborhoods help ensure that elementary age school children are ready to learn in school. Moderator:  Dr. J. Sunshine Cowan, Ph.D., MPH, MCHES® Coordinator, Community/Public Health Program, UCO.  


SESSION THREE:  Another Look at HB1017.  Julie Knutson, Executive Director, Oklahoma Academy for State Goals Each year the Academy conducts a Town Hall of Oklahomans on critical policy issues.  Ms. Knutson will share the Academy’s past recommendation to Oklahoma’s Governors and Legislatures on K-12 education support, and other Town Hall policy collaborations on state revenues, taxing policies, elections and civic engagement, and state services priorities affecting common education.  Moderator:  Dr. Mark Kinders.


SESSION FOUR:  Influencing the policy discussion:  Lessons Learned.  Angela Little, Edmond parent and founder, “Oklahomans for Public Education,” and Sherri Brown, retired principal and Board Member, Oklahoma Association of Elementary School Principals Legislators and the public may be suffering from K-12 funding fatigue.  Decision-makers are challenged on finding new and improved ideas to sustain basic funding for salaries, materials and support staff in an environment of “no new taxes.” How might teachers employ their new advocacy prestige in creative ways to ensure K-12 funding issues remain in the fore font?  Moderator:  Dr. Bryan Duke, Assistant Dean, UCO College of Education.


SESSION FIVE:  Civics Education and a Life of Engagement in Oklahoma’s Polis.  Congressman Dan Boren, President of Corporate Development, Chickasaw Nation, and   former U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma’s 2nd District. Dr. John Wood, UCO Department of Political Science and former vice mayor of Guthrie.  The United States is ranked 152 worst of 175 democracies for voter engagement.  Oklahoma has the least engaged voters of the 50 states and Puerto Rico.  What does civic instruction consist of in Oklahoma to inspire voter participation and an understanding of government?  Should more be done?  The Oklahoma Academy Town Hall in considered these questions under Mr. Boren’s leadership.  Dr. Wood will discuss the key points of the Generation Citizen program that is emerging as a platform for civics education.


SESSION SIX:  Education’s Tax Base.  Education Commission of the States. All states tax the same basic areas (sales, income, corporate, property) to fund priority services.  But the mix is based on state culture, and Oklahomans’ dislike property taxes are limited in the State Constitution.  This session compares some of the ways that Oklahoma and other states are approaching the challenge of generating funding for schools. Importantly, the presentation shares how student success is measured as a return on investment.


SESSION SEVEN:  Understanding Public School FinanceThomas Pickens, Professor Educational Leadership, UCO College of Education & Professional studies.   Everyone recognizes the need to improve educational outcomes in our state. Some believe additional resources will be necessary while others believe the focus should be on better stewardship of existing resources. Understanding the basic elements of Oklahoma’s school finance system and differences that exist across various state schools and districts will be reviewed by a former finance director of the Oklahoma Department of Common Education.  Moderator: Dr. Paul Haxton 


4 p.m. Closing Thoughts.  Facilitator: Dr. Jim Machell, Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies at UCO.  This session will be an opportunity for attendees to share their impressions, ask questions, or offer new ideas in response to what was shared throughout the day.


4:30 p.m. Adjourn.