Lester Holt of NBC News, National Public Radio, all the Tulsa TV stations as well as local and regional newspapers have interviewed Randy Harris over the last few years about one thing or another.
The Wagoner Public Schools Superintendent can now add an international newspaper from the Netherlands to his ever-growing list.
Seije Slager of the Trouw Newspaper contacted Harris recently, but not for a phone interview. He came to Oklahoma in person.
It seems every year he gets to leave the office and do stories in the United States on various subjects. Slager works on the foreign desk as the Americas editor. He contacted Harris because of the four-day school week that was adopted a few years ago.
Here is part of Slager’s email request.
“I am a journalist for Dutch daily Trouw, and I will be in Tulsa from April 7 to April 18 to research and write some features for my newspaper about Oklahoma.
“One of the stories I would most like to cover is the debate around the four day school week in Oklahoma, because in the Netherlands, many schools are at the moment also considering switching to four days. So for Dutch readers, it would be really helpful to read how this has worked out in Oklahoma.”
It seems Danish schools are facing the same financial crunch as in Oklahoma and are considering four-day school weeks. Slager wanted to see how it was going from an administrator, principal, teacher and even student standpoint.
Slager could go anywhere, but chose Middle America to pursue the subject.
“Once we found he was legit, we were more intrigued by him,” Harris explained at the recent Wagoner Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting. “He gets one trip a year. He wanted to talk about education.”
Slager told Harris, “My readers haven’t heard of Oklahoma.”
The visit was a culture shock for Wagoner, but it was also a big change of pace for Slager, too.
“He was aware of how everything is spread out (in the USA),” Harris said. “Nobody drives cars in his city. Mostly all ride bikes.”
The city where Slager comes from fits in about half the Wagoner footprint and is very compacted.
“He mentioned he rode his bike to school since the age of 6,” Harris said. “In the Netherlands, they also don’t send all students to High School, they split students in the 10th grade. Students attend Technical School or choose High School which is considered college preparatory.”
Slager also admitted he wanted to get as far away from the law-making part of the country in Washington, D.C., and get a frontline take on the school week Wagoner has become used to.
“It was a neat experience to visit with someone from Amsterdam and know that our schools and town will be written about in a newspaper located in the Netherlands,” Harris said. “Very few communities can make that claim!”