The Edmond Sun

Opinion

April 3, 2013

Community support vital to success of public education

OKLA. CITY — Many know I advocate for quality teachers in the classroom and quality leaders in our districts as a means of achieving academic excellence for our children. Today, I’m going to add another important component to the mix: community support.

Recently, I had the good fortune to visit two high performing school districts on my Raise the Grade Tour. In addition to the outstanding teachers and educational leaders, they have another characteristic in common, which is an impressive level of community support.

I saw first-hand in the districts of Choctaw-Nicoma Park and Bethany Schools the difference this makes. The districts not only set high expectations for the students, the community sets high expectation for the schools, and both of these communities definitely have something of which to be proud. The Report Cards are proof that all efforts pay off as both are high performing districts.

When visiting these districts, the benefits of combining excellence in teaching with active community support are evident. Both district superintendents can’t agree more that the community support is invaluable, and they are very thankful for it.

Jim McCharen of Choctaw-Nicoma Park knows the support the districts receives through the foundation’s fundraising efforts and the passage of bond issues are two of the biggest contributions from the community. “Our city leaders from the mayor to the civic club members get very involved in our bond elections, and that is key,” he said. In the past eight or nine years, Choctaw-Nicoma Park has passed $123 million in bonds with an 85 percent or higher approval rating.

When it comes to economic development, “selling the city in partnership with the schools” encourages community support. They want new businesses and residents to see that you get the whole package of great schools and a great place to live.

Sometimes it’s a matter of looking at what surrounds you and embracing it. That is what Bethany Schools has done with Southern Nazarene University. Kent Shellenberger can’t come close to putting a value on the support they receive from the university.

The college students are very interested in the high academic standards Bethany sets. They help reinforce the importance of academic success through tutoring and student teaching. “We’re very fortunate to have them right across the street,” Schellenberger said.

At the end of the day, both superintendents brag most about parental and alumni support. The parents and grandparents are active in parent teacher organizations, they help with homework and volunteer at school. The districts also benefit from alumni who come back to teach, making an incredible impression on the children. Those individuals also encourage teachers and district leaders to stay the course in growing college, career and citizen ready students for 21st century life.

I know there are many districts that enjoy great community support. Today, I challenge all parents and community leaders across the state to meet with their local school leaders and devise a plan for getting involved and helping us all Raise the Grade Together in Oklahoma for the benefit of our future leaders — our children.

JANET BARRESI is state superintendent of public instruction. Learn more about her at http://ok.gov/sde/about/janet-barresi.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tax deadline and no reform in sight

    The annual tax filing deadline, which comes next Tuesday, provides a good opportunity for tax reform advocates to decry the current law’s increasing complexity and inequities, and to urge enactment of a simpler, fairer system.

    April 10, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results