JUNE 29, 2022

Pastors for Oklahoma Kids, a statewide non-denominational coalition of pastors supporting public school families and kids, congratulates the many public education defenders that overcame millions of dollars in dark money being spent by organizations and out-of-state dark money to defund public school systems.

According to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, OCPA staff members Trent England, Dave Bond, and Jon Small organized a dark-money group, “People for Opportunity”, that spent $404,018 against Republicans who stood up against their anti-public school vouchers as of June 18, 2022. 

The Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth spent $658,135 against public education candidates. Walton-funded Oklahoma Federation for Children spent $70,000 against public schools.

Specifically, Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, Rep. Anthony Moore, R-Clinton, Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, and Rep. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City were targeted by anti-public school system dark money and all won their primaries.

Defunding public school systems remains an unpopular movement with 68 percent of Oklahomans being opposed to using taxpayer dollars to fund private school tuition in a recent survey conducted by conservative pollster, The Tarrance Group. 

Despite this clear preference for funding local community public schools which serve all 77 counties and every zip code, Governor Kevin Stitt and his administration, including Secretary of Education Ryan Walters continue to push Education Savings Accounts which divert millions away from Oklahoma’s public school system into private schools and questionable purchases with nearly zero accountability in place.

Similar to the recent EPIC and ClassWallet misspending, Pastors for Oklahoma Kids along with many other parent and teacher organizations have called for an end to voucher expansion in the state.

While public education funding has increased since 2018, when adjusted for inflation, the funding continues to lag behind pre-2008 recession funding levels.

Pastor Clark Frailey, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Pastors for Oklahoma Kids said, “Now is the time to double down on our investment in accountable and widespread educational choices for families no matter where they live. Children in rural areas should not be punished by reallocating their funding to give private school discounts in metro Tulsa or OKC.

Voters sent an unmistakable message on Primary Election Day: Vouchers are not welcome in Oklahoma!

Now is the time to invest in our public school system which has been a joint project of the state and local communities since 1907. Now is the time to solve the teacher shortage, increase educator salaries, and launch bold new public school choices that benefit all Oklahoma families, not just a select few.”


Pastors for Oklahoma Kids is a non-denominational coalition of clergy from across the state of Oklahoma that advocates for local schools, principals, teachers, staff, and schoolchildren by supporting our free, public education system, to promote education justice for children. Pastors for Oklahoma Kids works to advance legislation that enriches Oklahoma children, families, and communities.

More at http://www.pastorsforoklahomakids.com/

OK Teacher of the Year (2020) Jena Nelson

Pastors for Oklahoma Kids, a non-denominational organization of pastors and faithful from across the state that advocate for Oklahoma’s public school children, is proud to welcome Oklahoma’s 2020 Teacher of the Year Jena Nelson to their board of directors.

“I am honored to announce Jena Nelson is now a member of our board of directors,” said Rev. Clark Frailey, Executive Director & Co-Founder of Pastors for Oklahoma Kids. “Jena’s voice and the inspirational story of public education’s impact on her life will be invaluable as part of our board. In our brief history, we have already been successful as advocates for Oklahoma’s public school kids and Jena will be a big part of shaping the future work we do on behalf of these kids.”

Nelson teaches eighth-grade composition and academic enhancement at Deer Creek Middle School in Edmond, Oklahoma. A 15-year educator, she has taught many different subjects like English, composition, drama, and theater.

In 2020, she was selected by Congresswoman Kendra Horn to attend the State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C. Nelson serves as a member of the Oklahoma governor’s workforce council, Teacher Table initiative, Oklahoma ELA standards committee, superintendent’s teacher advisory committee, educator quality and diversity advisory committee, NSULA teacher education advisory committee, Deer Creek inclusivity committee, and ICAP (individual career and academic planning) teacher representative. 

Nelson is a proud recipient of the Chickasaw Nation/Oklahoman Newspapers in Education Award and the OKC Thunder Teacher of the Game.

“The free public school system in Oklahoma is the glory of our State,” according to the Rev. Evan D. Cameron.

Cameron, a Baptist pastor and Oklahoma’s first State Superintendent of Public Instruction, wrote this in 1908 in his first report.

Fast forward to April of 2018, when a glimmer of hope appeared on the horizon for the first time in a long time that Oklahoma might be plotting a course to restore the glory of an excellent free public school system in the Sooner state.

In spite of chronic underfunding, Oklahoma public schools have been trying to move forward in the 21st century. We should encourage and fund their new and promising initiatives. The one-size-fits-all institution where students enter and exit like a cookie cutter factory are a thing of the past.

Now is the time to double down our investment in innovation in public school choices like magnet schools, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, career internship programs, credit recovery, wraparound care, robust extracurricular options, and academy/specialty campus approaches with STEM, bilingual, fine arts, medical, or early childhood programs.

School district sponsored non-profit charters with open-enrollment serving students from a defined geographic area with specialty focus show much promise as well.

We must ensure access to these kinds of choices for kids in urban, suburban, and our rural schools across the state. This will take significant investment and political will.

But privatization advocates and their big money “think tanks” seek to derail this forward momentum. Several bills facing our legislators this session would be devastating to public education in Oklahoma.

Privatizers are quick to condemn public schools for seeking further investments that would benefit 90% of Oklahoma’s children. Yet at every turn, they have their hands out for government subsidies in the form of vouchers, tax credits, and for-profit charters.

Resources that could have funded innovative solutions for the overwhelming majority of Oklahoma kids, instead end up in the pockets of a few CEOs or private schools.

At the same time, the more taxpayer funding we take from public schools and send to private schools the less transparency and accountability we have for our most important investment: the next generation of Oklahomans.

Choosing to not invest in public education by sending money to private corporations means locking out 700,000 Oklahoma kids from these innovative options while giving preference to a tiny fraction, just 5% of families choosing private schools.

And while everything from bullying to homelessness is being used to push private school vouchers, no one can deny that public schools care for these kids spread out across the entire state. The fact that they serve growing numbers of students with dwindling investments from our state legislature is a tragic error.

We are either all in for all Oklahoma kids or we are not. Anything less means picking winners and losers among our children and reeks of corporate welfare for those who need it the least.

To be clear, Private School Vouchers and their close cousin Tax Credit “Scholarships” would defund the vast majority, 700,000 kids, in Oklahoma’s public schools by millions of dollars. This is no time to experiment on the next generation by further shorting our public school children.

Our hope is that Governor Kevin Stitt, House Speaker McCall, and Senate Pro Tem Treat will take seriously the investments needed in all Oklahoma kids and not just fall into line with the influential anti-public education ideologues and lobbyists.

Otherwise, the hope to restore our public schools as the glory of the state looks quite bleak.


Pastors, teachers, parents, students and friends will gather at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 8, at the State Capitol in a show of support for public school teachers and public school students.

A candlelight vigil will be held on the south plaza of the Capitol and include a time of prayer, song, and Scripture. Attendees are invited to bring a glow stick for the event since candles with flames are not allowed.

Pastors from Shawnee, Midwest City, Edmond and Oklahoma City will lead the prayers, songs, and devotionals during the event… (READ COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE)