Note: The damaging legislation that has been proposed this legislative session (and in the past) have made it abundantly clear that Oklahoma needs legislators who understand how public schools work. The best people to fill these shoes are educators themselves. This series highlights classroom teachers who are running for office this year.
Mickey Dollens is running for the House in District No. 93. We sent each candidate a list of questions, and below are Dollens’ answers.
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching at U.S. Grant High School for about two years now. During my first year, I taught leadership and college-prep classes. I’m currently a 9th grade English teacher.
What has motivated your decision to run for office?
I’m a 5th generation Oklahoman. Like many teachers I feel a deep connection to Oklahoma, but we all know our state faces great challenges. It seems like almost every week Oklahoma is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Ranked 50th in the nation for overall health, highest incarceration rates in the country, last for per-pupil spending in education, snowballs on the Senate floor… I know we can do better. As a legislator, I aspire to make a difference that will actually have a positive effect and improve the lives of students, teachers, and all working class Oklahomans.
What is your goal? What do you want to accomplish?
My goals as State Representative of House District 93 are to strengthen public schools, support teachers, invest in crime prevention instead of mass incarceration, honor veterans, promote equal pay and opportunity for women, expand healthcare, diversify our economy, and protect our natural resources. Also, I will always have an open door policy and continue to be a strong presence in our schools and community.
What are your positions on school vouchers/ESA and deregulation of districts.
I am against school vouchers/ESA. If a parent or guardian wants their child to go to private school, they should have that option, but not at the public’s expense. More than 90% of Oklahoma’s youth attend public schools. If we want the state of Oklahoma and its people to thrive we must have a unified commitment to public education. Quality public education is an investment, not a cost.
How would you return funding to school classrooms?
I would return funding to classrooms by eliminating irresponsible tax cuts, diversifying the economy, and being fiscally responsible with our state’s revenue.
What would you do to reverse the teacher shortage?
Almost every teacher will tell you they enter the profession for the outcome, not for the income. However, many teachers in Oklahoma, especially single parents, cannot afford to raise a family on the salary they’re given. It makes more sense for many teachers to move a few hours south into Texas and easily make $10,000 more per year. Also, I feel like a lot of great teachers are encouraged to become principals. Many educators would rather stay in the classroom and teach but the salary of a principal makes it much easier to raise a family. As a result, a large number of great teachers are either relocating to another state, leaving the profession, or seeking an administration job which will inevitably leave a huge teacher shortage with overcrowded classrooms. Inevitably, students aren’t receiving the high standard of education they need and deserve, test scores drop, and then private investors propose a strong initiative to create private charters to make up for the failing public schools in which our elected officials could have prevented in the first place. Again, quality public education is an investment, not an expense.
What do you see as the most pressing issue in #oklaed that needs to be addressed?
The most pressing issue facing Oklahoma’s education is our mass exodus of highly qualified teachers.
How can fellow educators help your campaign?
I just want to say I appreciate all that you do for our kids. I learned early on that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I promise to care and be a strong voice for Oklahoma’s teachers and public education. I need your your help as a volunteer and with contributions towards my campaign. Every dollar that’s donated is wisely invested towards getting my message out to voters. Please get in touch by visiting MickeyDollens.com and please like my Facebook page, “Mickey Dollens for State Representative.” Send me a message and we’ll get started. Thank you! #Oklaed #MDforHD93