The state of Oklahoma public education in 2017 was, perhaps, at its lowest point ever. Funding cuts over the previous decade were nearing $1 billion and teachers were being blamed for all of society’s ills.
At that same time, Clark Frailey was among a small group of pastors who were becoming increasingly troubled with how public education and teachers were being treated. The group decided to step up and Frailey helped cofound Pastors for Oklahoma Kids. Today, the group continues to advocate, educate, and network a grassroots response across Oklahoma’s clergy in support of public education.
In honor of his advocacy and leadership to improve Oklahoma public education, the OEA Board of Directors has named Frailey the association’s 2020 Friend of Education, OEA’s highest honor.
Frailey is the lead pastor at Coffee Creek Church, a nondenominational church in Edmond. He holds a bachelor’s in religion/philosophy from Oklahoma Baptist University and a master’s of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Under his leadership, Pastors for Oklahoma Kids has been a very vocal and active participant in the state’s conversation on public education. Specifically, the group has been a very loud critic of voucher programs in whatever form they take.
Frailey joined the OEA in calling for a statewide school closure that resulted in the historic 2018 teacher walkout. During the walkout, he organized and led a prayer rally at the Capitol. The event included speakers, music and prayer in support of teachers.
“Since the prayer vigil during the walkout, I have been inspired by the activism that Pastor Frailey has shown in the fight for public education,” said OEA President Alicia Priest. “His video trying to track down who is behind the push for voucher schemes in Oklahoma, his messages to get out and vote public education, his push to increase funding for public education, and his inherent want to make things better for kids are a few of the reasons Pastor Frailey is the perfect choice for OEA’s Friend of Education Award.”
Pastors for Oklahoma Kids has published its “Roadmap to Become A Top Ten State in Education.” The document that outlines how Oklahoma can lead the nation by following these four tenets:
- Stop the movement to privatize public education (no state-funded vouchers)
- Begin to fully invest in our public schools
- Drop unnecessary mandates (e.g. high stakes testing and unfunded mandates)
- Elevate the teaching profession in Oklahoma with competitive pay, educational opportunities, respect and resources.
A Declaration on Public Education on its website has been signed by 124 pastors/clergy and 126 Friends of Oklahoma Pastors.