What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?
This is an area that has developed in to a major crisis point in Oklahoma. For example, 1 out of 4 children are suffering from hunger. This is qualified by the fact that over 60 % of are children in the state quality for free and/or reduced lunch at school. They are not just hungry, but there are many of them that are living in less than desirable conditions at home. 1 out of every 7 children in Oklahoma experience some form of a domestic trauma situation. Whether that be abuse to them or a parent, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. We must disrupt this trend. I think one of the obvious resources to utilize for this venture is our public schools. Most schools are addressing this issue currently the best they can with their limited resources. As a state, we need to provide them with as much support as possible. This also means instilling in the students mind the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. In children from 2 to 19 years of age, obesity has risen from 13% to 36%. This is the highest in the world. I believe this is an overlooked issue when it comes to improving the lives of our children.
What have you done to support children prior to this election?
Actually, that has been a part of my job as a public school teacher and a high school principal for the last 40 years. This actually has been one of my top 5 campaign focuses. That is how seriously I consider taking care of our most precious resource, our children. As an educator, I have witnessed to many children relying on school as their “safe haven”. We are entering the 3rd generation of this problem in our state. We must address this ever-growing problem. Whenever we would suspect issues at home ( physical abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.) , we did as much as possible to cooperate with child welfare to be proactive in being an advocate for our students. In addition, at the high school, we provided a food pantry, shoes and clothes closet, and even prom dresses for our students. I always reminded my teachers that they were much more than classroom teachers, but they were also lifeguides for our students.
What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected?
As I stated earlier, this population of people who are experiencing multiple social and domestic problems is exploding in growth. We must be proactive in addressing it. As a state legislator, I would strive to seek out as many avenues as possible to re-direct the direction that this trend is going. I truly believe that we must emphasize the importance of making a lifestyle change for children and their families as a whole. This would help children and adults to “do life” with a much more positive attitude. It has been shown that 76% of the diseases we have in America today are the result of our lifestyle. Since many times adults are set in their ways and not willing to make changes, I believe that we need to focus on children when it comes to making any “true” change in this direction. Therefore, I would strive to create or support any legislation addressing this issue.