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Morning Bell: Mayor vows an education-focused office

The mayor's conference room in Oklahoma City is decorated with photos of local kids, reflecting the demographics of the city. Photo by Ben Felder.
The mayor's conference room in Oklahoma City is decorated with photos of local kids, reflecting the demographics of the city. Photo by Ben Felder.

Good Monday morning! The state Department of Education's Engage Oklahoma education conference begins today in Ada. The conference will visit seven cities across the state this month. More info can be found here

I was in the Oklahoma City mayor's conference room last week, which new OKC mayor David Holt had decorated with the photos of local kids reflecting the demographics of the city. A city staffer told me kids notice the symbolism when they come inside. 

Holt has spoke often about education being a central piece of his mayoral platform, despite the fact that city hall has no direct control over local public schools. 

“The mayor could very easily say, 'that's not my job,'” Holt said last month. "But this is definitely a priority (for me).”

Holt spoke to a small gathering of education leaders at a monthly forum hosted by the Odyssey Leadership Academy, a private school in downtown Oklahoma City that has hosted a series of forums to discuss education issues across the community.

Holt said the mayor is uniquely situated to "champion a bold plan" for Oklahoma City schools that gets wide community support.

"Maybe if Russell Westbrook said, 'I am going to be the champion for schools, and we are going to have a meeting at Chesapeake Arena,' he could probably pull that off," Holt said. "But other than that, in the local political ecosystem, the mayor, I think, is the only person who can pull that off."

Students win History Day honors

Ten students representing three Oklahoma schools received recognition for their projects in the 2018 National History Day contest held June 10-14 at the University of Maryland, College Park. This year's theme was “Conflict and Compromise in History.” A list of winners can be found here

Free school shots available

Oklahoma Caring Vans will offer vaccines needed for school attendance to qualifying kids ages six weeks to 18.

The shots are free to children who are uninsured, eligible for Medicaid, or American Indian. They are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. You can find a list of locations here

Support sought to promote love of reading

ReadOKC, an initiative of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, is seeking literacy champions to help promote a love of reading.

One way to help is to champion or steward a Little Library near an elementary school. Champions provide approximately $750 to purchase and install the library and stewards check them regularly to assess whether the book selection needs to be restocked.

Another way is to become a Reading Buddy organizational partner or volunteer. Buddies read with an elementary student 30 to 45 minutes per week at a designated school.

For more information, contact Abbie Dedmon at or 604-5977.

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Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›