“You don’t want to live in the Oklahoma City school district.” That was the universal advice I got from everyone I talked to in Oklahoma when I moved from Phoenix with my wife and son, who had a couple of years of high school left to complete. The clear and simple message was that Oklahoma City district schools were pitiful and should be avoided at all costs. You’d think that with a reputation like this, the last thing on the mind of the superintendent of Oklahoma City district schools would be to make sure every school has a Black Lives Matter chapter, but you’d be wrong.

I happened to see a recent meeting of the Oklahoma City school board, and that is exactly what the superintendent, Sean McDaniel, said, that he wanted to make sure every campus had a BLM chapter. You’d think that OKC district leaders would be concerned about academics, student motivation, and how to hold both students and educators more accountable for attaining what most people think schools are for – decent educations. Instead, proposed guiding principles for the district, in order, are: Health and Safety; Learning; Social and Emotional Needs; Equity; and Flexible Learning Models.

Only two of the five guiding principles actually have something directly to do with education, with one of these apparently just referencing the need for online instruction in response to Covid-19. “Health and safety” is a given, but it also seems to emphasize Covid-19. “Social and emotional needs” refers to the statewide emphasis on making excuses why children can’t learn and turning the schools into social work institutions. “Equity” is not about making sure every child in the district has access to the same resources. It’s explicitly about equity of outcomes, which means you can trash any notion of anyone in the OKC district attaining excellence since pursuing equity of outcome is inevitably a race to the bottom.

With respect to Black Lives Matter, let’s be clear here; the sentiment expressed by the name of the organization is not the same thing as the organization itself. The sentiment is unarguable. Human life, regardless of race, color, or creed, matters, so of course, black lives matter. However, BLM was cofounded by two avowed Marxists and is funded by radicals and radicalized organizations. They’ve rephrased and obfuscated their stated aims, but the internet tends to be unforgiving in preserving past, unguarded, un-scrubbed posts. The official platform from 2015 called for disrupting “the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” While police brutality and misconduct is a real issue, BLM makes false and racist claims about differential impacts that are manifestly not true.

It seems that the OKC public schools leadership in particular, but increasingly public school leaders everywhere, are less concerned about the absolutely critical job of passing knowledge on to our youth and far more concerned with social transformation of a decidedly leftist bent. Maybe it’s ignorance on their part, or naiveté. Neither of these excuses engenders trust in individuals who are supposed to guide our children’s educations (at taxpayers’ expense).

And in fact, Oklahoma City district schools are pitiful. The state’s school report card grades schools on five criteria and an overall score is reported as well, for a total of six different A through F grades per school. Of the eleven graded high schools (17 are listed for the Oklahoma City district), the most common reported grade among the six categories, by far, is “F,” which more than doubles the number of D’s, triples the C’s, quintuples the B’s, and outnumbers the A’s by a factor of seven.

Three of the four A’s are earned by a single school, Classen High School of Advanced Studies. But even it earns an F for chronic absenteeism. It seems that poor discipline and a lack of standards don’t exactly inspire kids to attend school, much less try very hard, even at the best high school in Oklahoma City.

It’s one thing to turn schools into social work centers with education relegated to a secondary status. It’s another thing entirely to actively promote an ideology that undermines a way of life and an economic system that together have done more to advance human freedom and to raise humanity out of subsistence poverty than any others in the history of mankind. Hard-working Oklahoma taxpayers should not be forced to fund planting the seeds of future oppression and poverty, which will inevitably result from the ideological poison, and rank ignorance, being promoted by the Oklahoma City School District.

Byron Schlomach is 1889 Institute Director and can be contacted at bschlomach@1889institute.org. 

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of 1889 Institute.