Waggin' Wagon

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Road Rules: Penniless educator edition

We’ve taken the position before that one of the silver linings of the state’s ongoing budget crisis can be seen in the form of increased efficiencies among departments tasked with doing the same amount of work (or more) but with less money.

The latest such innovation comes from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). In lieu of holding its annual summer conference in one set location, OSDE has opted to take its show on the road, literally.

A press release sent Tuesday stated that the road-show format seeks to “minimize travel costs for attendees” and “deeply reduce OSDE’s costs.”

Topics covered at stops in Broken Arrow, Sallisaw, Durant, Edmond, Woodward and Lawton will include overviews on special-education laws, child nutrition, accountability and school improvement, among others. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister will deliver a keynote address at each site.

The conference is free, but registration is required. For more information or to register, visit EngageOK.

‘Legislators here hate public education’

To piggyback on the idea that the state’s educators are simply too cash-poor to congregate together in one place for their annual summer conference, consider Alicia Blair as a case in point.

Alicia Blair
Alicia Blair, Mid-Del special-ed teacher

Blair, 33, is a sixth-grade special-education teacher in the Mid-Del school district. She graduated from St. Gregory’s University at Shawnee with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and currently seeks a master’s in teaching with a double focus on elementary and special education from the University of Southern California. She has taught in the classroom for four years.

“I owe $30,000 in student loans and take home less than $2,000 a month,” Blair was quoted as saying Tuesday in a press release from the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ Democratic Caucus. “My check would be about $2,200, but after taxes and retirement are withheld, $200 is taken out for my daughter’s insurance and $56 goes to my NEA dues.”

Her paycheck would be lower except she receives a 5 percent bump for being a special-ed teacher.

“I’m not afraid to say what my salary is,” Blair stated in the release. “I do an important job. The state is who should be ashamed. I feel like the legislators here hate public education. We have some allies at the State Capitol, but mostly I believe they hate us.”

Public school teachers in Oklahoma have not received a state pay raise in eight years, according to the release.

Move over food trucks: Here comes the pet truck

OKC Animal Welfare’s new Waggin’ Wagon will now offer homeless pets for adoption from a 26-foot-long converted recreational vehicle.

While it lacks the external flair of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne’s dog-shaped “shaggin’ wagon” from Dumb and Dumber, the Waggin’ Wagon does come equipped with a generator, a PA system, storage space and a desk for paperwork. Further, on-board kennels can house up to 28 animals, all of which have had their initial vaccinations, been treated for worms and spayed or neutered.

The Waggin’ Wagon was donated by the Stanton Foundation, a Massachusetts-based organization that provides grants for mobile pet-adoption vans, among other things. The Oklahoma City Council voted in 2014 to accept the donation.

To book the Waggin’ Wagon for festivals, store-related or community events, email For more information, visit Animal Welfare or call (405) 297-3100.