Educate Oklahoma

A local commercial during News 9’s special report, Educate Oklahoma, proclaims “Join us.”  That same message resonates through the entire first part of the two-hour program.

A two-night special on #oklaed topics that started Monday evening, Educate Oklahoma starts with its polling results:  Oklahomans give our schools a grade of C+, with 35 percent blaming the state Legislature, 24 percent blaming parents, and 12 percent and 10 percent blaming the federal government and local school administrators, respectively.

But that was about the last of the negativity that could be found in this must-see television report and its web version. Yes, our state ranks 48th in the nation in terms of our education outcomes and efforts, but the program urges Oklahomans to think about what could be accomplished if we heeded the call to “join us” in building a better future for our kids.

Touching on many topics

Educate Oklahoma puts faces on the teacher shortage crisis, as it touches on the need for parents to help create respectful classroom climates that don’t burn teachers out. It explains the damage done by rampant high-stakes testing while demonstrating the great potential of hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) project-based learning. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s consultation with Oklahomans about policies now allowed by the federal government is also chronicled.

It’s great to be reminded that Oklahoma is one of the nation’s leaders in pre-kindergarten. We should now join together and provide high-quality early education to those who benefit the most from it — children from birth to 3 years old. Watching the feature Monday evening, it was even greater to learn that Oklahoma is top nationally, per student, in education foundations joining the battle for school improvement.

Part two tonight

The first part of Educate Oklahoma focused almost completely on the positive, and it foreshadowed a further investigation of constructive approaches to school improvement, such as Finland’s humane and holistic pedagogies.

The second hour is supposed to investigate solutions. It almost certainly will prompt debate, perhaps discord. But I expect the constructive tone of the program will continue, and I suspect it will present policies where disagreement is inevitable.

News 9’s second part of the report will be aired at 7 p.m. tonight.

Oklahomans interested in their state’s education system should watch it, learn from it and disagree agreeably when necessary.

(Author’s update: The second part of Educate Oklahoma was even better than the first.  Readers should do their homework and watch Tuesday’s program. More commentary will be coming. It will be on the test!)