Nation & World

Oklahoma mom appalled daughter got Blake Shelton's old school book; not all agree

An Oklahoma mother says she is "embarrassed" that one of her daughter's school books is so old that country star Blake Shelton used it back in the 1980s.
An Oklahoma mother says she is "embarrassed" that one of her daughter's school books is so old that country star Blake Shelton used it back in the 1980s. Facebook/ Shelly Bryan Parker

An Oklahoma girl got excited when she saw that one of her school books was once used by country star Blake Shelton.

His name's right there, presumably printed in his own handwriting, on the "This book is the property of" page. It's dated 1982.

But the girl's mother, a former teacher, didn't share her daughter's excitement because she knows how old Shelton is — thus how old the books are in her daughter's school.

The book is called "Look Away (Keys to Reading)," a pictorial reader by Louise Matteoni published in 1980.

"Marley is EXCITED that her 'new' reader belonged to Blake Shelton, but I am EMBARRASSED!!!!," Shelly Bryan Parker wrote this week in a Facebook post that has been shared more than 7,000 times since Wednesday.

"I’m 40 and these people are my age!!!"

Shelton, one of the stars of NBC's "The Voice," is 41 and grew up in Ada, Okla., where the Parker family lives.

Latta school district superintendent Cliff Johnson confirmed to CNN that Shelton attended Latta Public School "in his younger years" but graduated from a different school.

For Parker the book symbolizes Oklahoma's education crisis, which became national news when thousands of teachers and supporters descended on the state capitol in Oklahoma City on Monday on the first day of a teacher walkout that has lasted all week.

Teachers are asking legislators to put more money into schools.

"Thank you to every teacher/parent/support staffer/etc. for fighting for my kids education!!! Don’t give up until education is FULLY FUNDED," Parker wrote.

Over the last few days photos posted online of broken school chairs and Oklahoma school books being held together with tape have become symbolic of the teachers' concerns.

Shelton's old book has now become emblematic, too.

Stephanie Cline, a teacher from Moore, Okla., referenced his book in a video she posted in response to rumors that people are being paid to protest at the statehouse.

Rep. John Enns, a Republican from Enid, reportedly told one of his constituents that 25 percent of the protesters were paid actors from Chicago. When reporters pressed him for details on Wednesday, Enns said he couldn't say who gave him that information.

Enns said he was "told" actors are in town.

Cline mocked the rumors by offering "actors" from out of town tips on "things that Oklahoma teachers say."

Here was one scenario she offered.

"Oh, bless your heart, Joey. Now, remember, this happened before. Whenever your textbook starts falling apart because it's so old we have tape, remember? Little Susie's mama came and she donated some so now we have some more and we're just gonna, we're gonna fix that, OK?

"Remember, you have the lucky textbook. Yours actually has Blake Shelton's name in it. Yes, I know he's older than your mama. But remember, he's on the TV ..."

Parker told CNN she didn't mean for her Facebook post to grab so much attention. The book is very educational and still in good shape, she said.

"My daughter's teacher is an amazing educator, and I'm certain that if she had a way to obtain books that are not 40 years old, she would," she said.

"I just want the state to come to a resolution that will fully support teachers and their classrooms. As a former educator, this is very important to me. But as a parent, this is crucial as I want the best education for my daughter."

Her post has incited heated debate on her Facebook page, where some people don't understand why she's upset.

"It’s a book. Last (I) checked books could never 'break,'" wrote one man on Parker's Facebook page. "Either it’s a readable book or it’s destroyed and trash.

"Maybe if we put our focus on something else other than an old book, we’d make it a little farther with more happiness, just like this child that’s happy as a clam to have the same book as Blake Shelton."

Another man wondered if the book was "somehow out-of-date? Is it not effective anymore for some reason? I applaud ANY school system that doesn't waste money on the latest and greatest because they CAN, or because they can afford it. It's in fine condition and provides what the student needs.

"If this is about proper resourcing, I'd say the school/district is doing an outstanding job. Next time, find some other example for your outrage. This is just dumb."

A woman who identified herself as a retired Texas teacher said she understood Parker's frustration.

"People only see what they want to see! Readers are timeless. I agree, but if this reader is that old what about the math and science books? What are Oklahoma kids missing by using outdated textbooks?" she wrote.

"As a Blake Shelton fan, I would be thrilled myself to have a book that used to be Blake's. As a retired teacher, I fully support the teachers for their protest to fully fund education. Nothing is more important than our children!"

Other people suggested that maybe Shelton will buy new books for the school, or, one woman suggested, "put on a concert for the teachers at the capital!!!! Bring some attention and entertain to release the stress some."