Duncan teachers continue involvement at State Capitol


Katelyn Young

Cathy Barker is a member of the Duncan Legislative Team. Team members go to the Capitol and meet with legislators about public education.

By Katelyn Young and Joelliza Fincher

Duncan Public School teachers have gone to the Oklahoma State Capitol to persuade members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to support public education.

A couple of Duncan Middle School teachers Cathy Barker and Derrick Miller and Will Rogers Pre-K teacher Misty Blanton went to the Capitol last week. This week, Barker and Miller returned and sat during the Senate Education Committee.

Cathy Barker is a member of the Duncan Legislative Team. Team members go to the Capitol and meet with legislators about public education. (Katelyn Young)

“I’m a part of the Advocacy Team, which means we watch everything at the Capital, and if we see that there’s a bill that could be passed we try to go persuade them,” Barker said.

Baker said there’s a lot of support for private schools. It regularly takes money from public schools.

“I was not nervous to go to the capital,” Barker said. “Twenty-five years ago I was.”

Every year, the Senate and House create various education bills, and the Duncan Advocacy Team meets with legislators to discuss what is needed to benefit public education. Prior to going to the Capitol, the team members schedule meetings with local legislators, including Rep. Marcus McEntire, Rep. Brad Boles, Sen. Jessica Garvin and Sen. Chris Kidd.

Earlier this year, the Legislative Team, along with other Duncan teachers, met with legislators during the Legislative Breakfast that was hosted by the Association of Duncan Educators and the Duncan Legislative Team.

Barker, Miller and Blanton were in attendance last week when the Senate passed the change in the education funding formula. The change in the funding formula gives each district a look-back of the last two years enrollment instead of the last three years for the state to determine how much funding each school district will receive.

Following the change in the funding formula, Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister released a statement expressing concern about the change.

“Children in rural Oklahoma deserve to have a high quality education, and HB 2078 potentially jeopardizes that,” Hoffmeister said. “This bill removes financial safeguards meant to protect all students from the impact of abrupt changes in the local economy. Kids will lose when schools are forced to make sudden cuts in essential services and opportunities which provide access to a well-rounded education.”

As the legislative session continues, members of the Duncan Legislative Team are still scheduled to return to the State Capitol. Baker and Miller will return to the Capitol on April 27.

This story was originally published on Demon Direct on April 8, 2021.