These are highlights of the regular meeting of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education Monday, Nov. 13.
Chief Academic Officer Lynn Barnes gave a report on the further development of remediation frameworks for teachers so there will be a uniform approach in the district to remediation.
Board members took considerable time asking questions to Barnes about how the plan gets implemented and to what extent remediation takes place.
Rebecca Budd raised questions about how the program would have effects on schools that have such different student bodies with different remediation needs.
Barnes answered that the resources are varied enough to allow teachers to pull from the remediation tools and meet varied needs of different students.
Native American month
A resolution passed that established November 2017 as Native American Month in OKCPS.
There are 77 tribes represented among OKCPS students.
The resolution passed in a unanimous vote.
The OKCPS board of education considered a new charter school application that is unique for the district in that it will target the unique needs of Native American children.
The name will be Sovereign Community School.
As stated in the application, the mission of the school is to strengthen the knowledge Native American youth have of their heritage and culture.
The mission statement reads:
The Sovereign Community School will activate the next generation of indigenous leaders by engaging our youth with rigorous, culturally relevant curriculum that challenges them to understand and affirm their roles as citizens in our many Native nations.
And the vision or goals are listed as:
- Holistic Student Wellness
- Rigorous Indigenized Learning Community
- Intertribal Inclusivity
- Cultural Connectedness
Each of the external authorizers currently have sovereign schools and have coached the OKCPS staff on establishing a similar school in the district.
Phil Gover gave the presentation to the board.
While Native American students are a priority, any student may attend.
“Our content and approach are such that any kid would benefit from the curriculum,” said Gover.
There are some areas where they will develop their own curriculum.
Wellness classes were described as “the heartbeat” of the model.
In the first year they will use a general language program that instructs students on the roots of indigenous languages.
In future years they will know better what tribes are represented by their students and be able to tailor the language offerings to the tribes most represented.
Angie Smith United Methodist Church on the south side could be the first site. They are also looking at the former Plaza Mayor/Crossroads mall for future possibilities.
If all other aspects check out with the district, the board will vote on the proposal Dec. 15.
Ed Allen, president of the American Federation of Teachers Oklahoma City local that bargains OKCPS teachers’ contracts, presented their survey of teachers in the district.
The survey showed that teachers still believe, as they did three years ago, that discipline is a big issue for the district.
Teachers have added comments on the survey that teachers are leaving in large numbers and that the climate in the district is not usual for most school districts.
PBIS is not considered to be an “effective discipline tool” by 61 percent of the teachers who took the survey.
Allen said there “is a disconnect” between teachers and the administration on what would help make teachers more effective.
Forty-five percent of teachers aren’t satisfied with the curriculum the district is providing.
Teachers responses to time taken to give benchmark tests are far off from what administration says.
Only 34 percent of teachers gave positive responses to the instructional coach program.
Allen said in conclusion that there is a disconnect with what central office administrators say is going on and what teachers experience.
He said that 85 percent of teachers believe the district is in decline.
Allen said that the promise of consultant John Kotter is great and advocated for the district to take advantage of the knowledge Kotter has.
Board Chair Paula Lewis pointed to the lack of financial support from the legislature as the core of the problems in the district.