Patrick B. McGuigan, editor
OKLAHOMA CITY – Opponents of programs supporting parental choice in education threatened in recent days to disrupt the Oklahoma School Choice Summit 2017. Consequently, officials at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC), venue for the summit scheduled for Thursday, considered withdrawing use of the facility for the summit.
The event is booked by ChoiceMatters, a group based in Oklahoma City which is led by Robert Ruiz.
The non-profit group is a parent-led organization, a statement from the group said, “that works to increase educational opportunities for low-income Oklahomans.”
Tuesday evening, Ruiz told CapitolBeatOK he heard from OCCC security personnel after a group called “Occupy Education” (affiliated with Red State Revolt) had told OCCC personnel they would disrupt learning and regular operations at the south Oklahoma City campus. Ruiz was worried he might have to find a new location less than 48 hours before the kickoff for the event.
After discussions with school officials, Ruiz said, the program remains in place for a 4 p.m. start on Thursday. Today (Wednesday), Ruiz expressed relief he would not have to contact the more than 200 “parents, educators and reformers” who have RSVP’s their plans to attend.
In a statement, Ruiz said: “The potential victims of this kind of extremism are parents and their kids. We have parents here, for instance, whose children have special needs. They have a right to connect with schools that can cater to those needs and provide a safe and constructive learning environment.
“Parents have an inherent right to assemble and share their opinions — to discuss a cause they believe in. In this case, that cause is the right of every mom and dad to choose how and where to educate their children.
“All of us lose when radicals and bullies can use threats to scare us into silence.”
In an update, Ruiz said 20 schools have information booths slated for the summit. At the event, educators in all education sectors – traditional public, public charter, private and home-school – are expected to participate.
Speakers include Dr. Steve Perry, a nationally-known advocate, local educators and administrators from KIPP Reach Charter Academy, Christo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School and Advance Rural Education.