Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive October 2014 Show 1441 A Vision for Oklahoma Public Education

A Vision for Oklahoma Public Education

Leaders behind a public education project say they hope to increase community involvement in the classroom.
A Vision for Oklahoma Public Education

A Vision for Oklahoma Public Education

For more information visit these links:

For the People – Oklahoma

OSSBA

Oklahoma Education Association

Show Details

Show 1441: A Vision for Oklahoma Public Education
Air Date: October 12, 2014

 

Transcript

Rob McClendon: Well, over the last couple of months two educational groups rolled out a project they believe will improve public education. It’s called “For the People,” and it’s designed to increase community involvement in the classroom. Joining me now is Joe Siano, superintendent of Norman Public Schools, and Shawn Hime, the executive director of the Oklahoma State School Board Association. Well, gentlemen, first of all, thank you for being here. But before we begin, I want to show the video that you brought with you.

Joe Siano: That’s great.

[music.]

Female Student: When you talk about education,

Male Student: When you talk about education,

Male Student: When you talk about education,

Female Student: You’re talking about me.

Male Student: You’re talking about me.

Female Student: You’re talking about me.

Male Student: You are talking about me.

Female Student: You’re talking about me.

Male Student: When you talk about public education,

Female Student: You’re not talking about a faceless institution.

Female Student: I am the face of education.

Male Student: I am the face of education.

Male Student: I am the face of education.

Male Student: I am the face of education.

Male Student: I may not understand educational budgets.

Female Student: Or the politics behind decisions.

Male Student: Or the impact of testing.

Female Student: But the result will shape my education.

Female Student: It will shape if I love to learn.

Male Student: If I will follow my dreams.

Female Student: I may not understand the conversations you have about education.

Male Student: But I feel the outcome.

Female Student: I can’t make these decisions.

Female Student: I can’t make these decisions.

Male Student: But you can.

Male Student: You can.

Female Student: You can.

Male Student: Will you join the conversation about my future?

[music.]

Meredith Exline: You walk into most schools in Oklahoma, and you will find something positive happening every day.

Joe Siano: Public education is the foundation for everything that we do in this country. And it’s built on that foundation of public education and public education for all.

Felix Linden: Nobody suffers from you being smart. Nobody suffers from you having an education. We all benefit from you being a productive member of society. Here recently, education has become less focused on the individual and more the numbers behind that individual.

Dustin Tackett: I think in a lot of ways we’re teaching kids to go pick that right answer out of A, B, C or D. There’s definitely more information given to the students. They’re definitely exposed to more types of curriculum. But there’s less of critical thinking and decision-making.

Exline: We’ve got to look at a way to evaluate a child from the beginning and how we move that child forward.

Debbie Rueda: We’re getting away from what the problem is, and that’s helping kids be the best they can be. We’ve gotta look at the kids first, and we’ve gotta listen to ‘em because they will tell you if they’re being successful. It just all comes down to we’ve gotta start working together. I mean, I don’t think it’s a lost cause. We can’t let it be a lost cause.

Shawn Hime: The visioning project is really a jumping off point. It’s a conversation starter. Hopefully, it will bring all the partners to the table to talk about public education and what we can do to improve it.

Siano: Public education has become this adversarial conversation. When in truth, when you sit down individually – and I have with all these different stakeholders, there’s a commonality in what our goals are. And I think the visioning project will give us that opportunity to define common goals and bring us forward together as stakeholders.

Ann Caine: I’m not sure that everyone trusts educators to do what’s right for children. That’s why I was so excited about this project. When people see the success that we’re having, I would hope that that then causes our communities to trust us because every community is different. But the bottom line is every district needs to figure out together what’s good for their kids, examine the project and figure out where they want to begin and then get their educators and their community involved because we can’t be successful if we don’t have our community and our businesses and our patrons involved with us in it. We can’t do it alone.

Tammy Lane: The school can’t exist without the community. And the community needs to be involved with the school.

Tackett: We’ve got to make the connection that each one of those students is important.

Linden: It has to start with us. We have to be what we want. So if we want them to be successful, we want them to take their education seriously, then we have to take it seriously. And we have to take our commitment to that solution seriously. The role that you play, however small it may be to you, it might be a big role in the life of a kid.

[music.]

Male Student: I have dreams for the future.

Male Student: I have dreams for the future.

Male Student: I have dreams for the future.

Female Student: And these dreams require education.

Male Student: They require an education that won’t fail me.

Male Student: The stakes are high.

Male Student: The stakes are high.

Female Student: From teachers.

Male Student: To administrators.

Male Student: To school board members.

Male Student: To parents.

Male Student: To the community.

Male Student: We all have a role to play.

Female Student: Let your voice be heard.

Male Student: Let your voice be heard.

Female Student: Shape the face of education.

Male Student: Shape the face of education.

Female Student: Say yes.

Male Student: Say yes.

Male Student: Be part of the conversation.

Male Student: Say yes.

Female Student: Say yes.

Male Student: Do whatever it takes to build up the students and teachers in my school.

Male Student: In my school.

Female Student: In mine.

Female Student: In mine.

Male Student: Say yes.

Male Student: Say yes.

Female Student: Embrace a new vision for public education that’s for all people.

Male Student: For all children.

Male Student: For me.

Male Student: For me.

Female Student: For me.

Female Student: For me.

Male Student: For me.

Female Student: For me.

Female Student: For me.

Male Student: For me.

[music.]

Rob: Well, first of all, what a great moving video for anyone that cares about public education. Let me ask you both: Why this project?

Siano: I think there’s a lot of reasons why this project. First of all, education – and particularly public education – in my view is the foundation for everything that we do in the state and across the country. And our time and investment in public education is certainly worth this effort and this effort going forward. But maybe specifically Shawn might want to talk a little bit about the, where we got started.

Hime: Well, it really started with the whole reform movement. As education leaders, we saw where we left a void in leadership – we ran schools, we were principals, we were teachers. And other entities came in and really led the discussion for reforming and improving public schools. And as that happened, we saw most of their plans, their slogans, buzzwords, practices really didn’t fit what works best for children. So we decided to bring educational leaders together, talk about transformational practices that work in the classroom, and then bring those partners in to help us, to be a part of it -- from parents, community members, politicians, local chambers of commerce -- to really see if we could move the needle on our public schools.

Rob: So is it fair to say that education in general recognizes that there’s a need for change, but maybe not the type of reforms that have been pushed?

Siano: I think that’s exactly right. First of all, as a school superintendent, my colleagues, teachers that I work with, principals that I work with, all believe that we could always get better. And that we have to invest our time and effort in getting better. That’s, that’s part of the profession. What we believe in as part of this project is, though, that the change needs to be transformational, not just reform, and that today’s reform movement, in our view, in many of our views, is really about changes that will maybe focus on some kids and give some kids opportunities in certain ways. But it really makes no systemic change in the institution of public education. And our focus is systemic change in the institution that will really affect and impact every student in our, in our schools across the state. And that’s where really our change is about.

Hime: And public education is for all children, so we don’t want to just find pockets of change or change for specific groups of students. We want to try to have transformational practices Joe talked about and share that across the state of Oklahoma so the schools in Idabel can learn what’s working in Altus and schools in Miami can learn what’s working in Gotebo, so we can bring it up together and help all of our schools improve.

Rob: So how are you using this “For the People” project to elicit that change?

Hime: Well, we’re starting with our groups, the School Boards Association. We have 16 regional meetings across the state. We’re now in the process of meeting with them, rolling it out, sharing the concept. Our hope is they take it back to their community. They have strategic planning sessions in their community. They look at the pieces of the recommendations that deal with school policy, practices, procedures – compare that to what they’re doing, find those things they think work in their school, work on that implementation with their community as they find promising practices, share those so we can grow the document – grow the experience across the state. Some of the legislative pieces – big picture pieces -- we’ll be working with our board members, but also legislative leaders to talk to them about a positive solutions-based approach. Joe talks about this a lot, and we’ve talked about this from the beginning. For some time now we’ve been known as the group or organizations of “no” – on education reform; no on A-F; no on certain testing; no on third-grade retention. Well, what are we for? So this was about telling ’em what we’re for: having solutions to those issues, talking about what really works for children. We want to talk about literacy for early elementary students. Who knows better than educational leaders? We should have a solution, take it to our legislators and say this will work. This is really what we want to do to have accountability for our schools. We need accountability for our schools; we believe in it as much as anyone. But we want an accountability system that truly gives a picture of what’s happening in the local school. Are we helping students grow from grade to grade? You know, what’s happening in the school? So parents and community members know -- not a system that may give an A-F that is nine months after the assessment took place and way too late for that data to really help schools make data-driven decisions.

Rob: Joe, Shawn, thank you so much for being here today.

Hime: Thanks for having us.

Rob: Now, we’ll continue this conversation on our website. Just go to okhorizon.com and look for us under our value added section.