After funding cuts and a historic teacher shortage, the State Department of Education is hoping to raise awareness by elevating student artists in a creative way. We've all seen vanity plates before, causes that drivers feel their dollars should go directly towards. Now, one of those causes is going towards getting schools and teachers the money they deserve.
“There's an artist inside each one of us,” says State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, “and we want to tap into the talent that's there within our student population.”
It's called License 2 Educate. Students from kindergarten to high school can submit designs for a specialty license plate with the hopes of raising both public support and money for education.
“It's really not going to raise a significant amount, Hofmeister says. "It's really about raising enough to add to the collective effort to stem the teacher shortage.”
Amid massive budget cuts, Oklahoma teachers have been fleeing the state in droves. Underpaid educators looking for better paying options have forced the state to hire hundreds of emergency certified teachers, an unstable foundation for the future of Oklahoma.
“We are in a terrible crisis and it is one that must be solved. If it isn't, everything else unravels in this state.”
In the end, Hofmeister says the plates may not do much but the hope is that it raises awareness that lawmakers need to find a solution before it's too late.
"(A)t the end of the day, this is not a problem that is going to remedy itself and it is going to be one where we see a lasting impact for years to come."
Entries will be taken until September 22. Finalists will be posted online for a public vote. The winner is expected to be announced in early November.