(Editor’s note: The following briefs were composed based off of events that took place Oct. 23 during a regular meeting of the Oklahoma City Public School Board. All opinions expressed within are the author’s own.)
Students protest at enterprise school
The day began with a 150-student protest at Northeast Academy about problems linked to sharing the campus with the administration offices as well as large class sizes. This is noteworthy because Northeast is an “enterprise school,” meaning it has been granted more site-based management. Some Northeast leaders want it to become a charter school because they say the district has not respected the school’s autonomy, with the central office putting up “constant roadblocks.”
Two days later, Northeast principal Sue Starr was placed on leave without explanation.
OKCPS joins Tulsa in lawsuit
At the end of the busy meeting, the board agreed (to its credit) to join the Tulsa Public Schools and intervene in a lawsuit by Oklahoma Public Charter School Association that could put the district’s financing in further jeopardy.
Three elementaries to change names
Superintendent Aurora Lora and her administration have continued to provide strong leadership, as the board earned praise for changing the names of three elementary schools named after Confederate generals: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Stand Watie. And, yes, we should see this process as “a teachable moment for our students,” as Lora stated on a new web page designed to allow community input for new name suggestions as well as a timeline of related actions.
African-American reaches out to Son of Confederate Veteran
Perhaps the wisest contribution of the evening was the charitable response of Steve Davis, an African-American volunteer, who offered to meet with Larry Logan, a member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. It would have been hard for me to be so polite to Logan after his insulting comment to the board.
Kudos to Santa Fe South
Although I disagree with Santa Fe South Superintendent Chris Brewster on many or most issues, his record at that high-performing, high-poverty charter school is very impressive. The OKCPS should learn from Santa Fe South’s presentation. The school’s enthusiastic effort to reach out to families and the community, as well its embrace of concurrent enrollment and Core Knowledge, are crucial to its successes.