Analysis: The Tulsa Public School (TPS) Board Candidate Forum sponsored by The University of Tulsa, The Tulsa World and The Tulsa Press Club was held in the Lorton Performance Center on February 27, 2024.
Four of the six candidates for the three TPS Board introduced themselves and fielded several questions prepared by Tulsa World employees and one prepared by TPS students.
The Tulsa Public School (TPS) board unanimously approved revisions to the goals and guardrails established in their 2022-2027 Strategic plan. The rationale was to:
- align TPS goals with what the Oklahoma State Board of Education (OSBOE) wants to see accomplished
- focus monitoring energies primarily on academic outcomes
- continue monitoring equitably providing education for all students including Special Education
Five board members were present: Board President Stacey Woolley, Vice President John Croisant, E’Lena Ashley, Susan Lamkin, and Diamond Marshall.
The following revisions were part of the consent agenda, the entirety of which passed without discussion. Note: it is unusual for there to be no discussion of any aspect of the consent agenda.
Today, Governor Kevin Stitt delivered his State of the State address to Oklahoma’s 59th Legislature. Governor Stitt outlined his priorities for the 2024 regular legislative session, focusing on making Oklahoma the most business friendly state in the nation, limiting the growth of government by cutting taxes, expanding education freedom, and reinforcing public safety. The text was provided by the Governor’s Office and edited for space considerations.
My fellow Oklahomans. First off, I want to give thanks to my Heavenly Father for allowing me to serve in this position and for all the blessings we have in this great state. It’s my honor and privilege to stand before you today to give my sixth state of the state address. I’m sure some of you are excited about that because it means you only have to listen to me two more times.
State Superintendent Ryan Walters highlighted the tremendous success of the teacher singing bonus initiative in a message to media today. The pioneering program awarded signing bonuses to 523 certified teachers hired to teach in critical shortage areas of PreK – 3 and Special Education, including 67 who moved across the country to teach Oklahoma students and take part in the program. Out of the 523 awarded teachers, 76 percent were employed in high-poverty or rural districts.
“Innovative solutions like the teacher bonus program are the key to getting Oklahoma schools back on the right track,” said Walters. “Any fake controversy Democrats and Republicans controlled by the teachers unions try to drum up will not dim the overwhelming success of this program. Previous small-scale programs have not worked, so we had to disrupt the market clearly and decisively to invest in our high-need areas. We will continue to disrupt the status quo, introduce free market principles in our education system, and unleash to power of innovation to reward our best teachers and help our students achieve great things.”
There’s a host of anguish by both conservatives and liberals over education lately—and specifically, Tulsa Public Schools (TPS). Even if heated debate surrounds the discussion, I love that the state’s school performance is receiving attention.
The most important investment that can be made for our kids and grandkids is the investment in a great education. In fact, the only way to achieve growth and prosperity for Oklahomans is to properly prepare the next generation for high quality jobs with education.
The commitment of taxpayers should not be in question. Look at TPS: for the current budget year, total appropriated funds are expected to be $755,367,103. That’s approximately $25,179 per student! For that huge investment, the results are simply tragic—according to Public School Review, only 8% of TPS students are proficient in math, and only 12% are proficient in reading.