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GREENWOOD Dist. – In a remarkable display of unity and determination, Tulsa Public School students are taking charge of their educational destiny. As the future of Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) hangs in the balance as it relates to its accredication, students have banded together to organize a student-led town hall event, sending a powerful message to local and state leaders that their voices must be heard.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 19th, beginning at 5:00 pm at the University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business, Helmerich Hall. This comes at a pivotal moment. With the State Board of Education poised to vote on Superintendent Ryan Walters’ recommendation to potentially initiate a state takeover of TPS, these students are making a stand for their schools and their community.

TPS Students demand to have their voices heard

Recognizing that they are the ones who will be most directly affected by any decisions made, these impassioned students have taken it upon themselves to ensure their concerns are conveyed to public officials and State Board of Education members. Invitations have been extended to select board members, inviting them to attend the event and listen firsthand to the students’ perspectives before their vote scheduled for the following Thursday.

Lance Brightmire, a recent TPS graduate, shared, “Our schools are the heart of this community. We all have a stake in the success of Tulsa Public Schools and cannot stand idly by as state leaders jeopardize its mission. This event is a testament to our commitment to the local control needed for TPS and Tulsa to thrive.”

The student-led town hall is designed to comply with open meetings act regulations, providing an opportunity for a respectful and productive dialogue between students and state leaders. Throughout the event, students will be given priority in speaking opportunities, and they will take the lead in shaping the discussion. While all members of the public are welcome to attend and listen respectfully, only Tulsa students will have the chance to directly address state board members in attendance.

Ryan walters TPS students plan rally amidst pending State Board decision
Left: E’Lena Ashley. Right: Ryan Walters. (Tulsa Public Schools) (Associated Press)

Petition has over 4,000 signatures

The urgency of the situation has galvanized students across Tulsa to protect their district and schools. Their commitment to voicing their concerns is mirrored by the broader community, as evidenced by the nearly 4,000 signatures on the “Protect TPS” petition. This petition, aimed at the State Board of Education, emphasizes the importance of maintaining local control over the district.

Ashley Daly, a TPS parent and advocate, stated, “We are encouraged and inspired by the courage of these students. Their determination to make their voices heard is a testament to their dedication to their education and their community. We urge all concerned Tulsans to join them in their cause by visiting”

Tulsa parents and teachers are speaking up

Ana Barros, Tulsa educator and community advocate, highlighted the importance of student engagement: “This event underscores the significance of including students’ perspectives in decisions that impact their education. It’s an opportunity for our leaders to truly listen and understand the potential consequences of their choices.”

The student-led town hall event promises to be a pivotal moment in the ongoing dialogue about the future of TPS. As students stand up for their schools, their passion and determination are sending a resounding message that their voices matter and must be considered in shaping the path ahead.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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