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For the People A Vision for Oklahoma Public Education

Oklahoma City to Oktaha. Marietta to Morris. Peggs to Putnam City. Adair to Anadarko. From our bustling cities to our quiet towns, Oklahoma’s education leaders share a dream: a future of promise and prosperity for our state’s children.

For the People: A Vision for Public Education in Oklahoma began in 2012 as OSSBA and CCOSA gathered a group of Oklahoma education leaders from throughout the state to look at strengths and areas of improvement for public schools in our state.

Seven years later, the context has changed: Oklahoma’s teacher shortage has reached historic levels, but in the last two years, so has the level of investment in public education.

We have refreshed the original For the People plan to reflect the changing education landscape, the latest research on trauma, hope and educational equity and accomplishments resulting from the original For the People work.

The vision is unchanged: All Oklahoma public school students will learn in an environment that maximizes their potential and develops them as leaders who will contribute to a meaningful life in a democracy, propelling our state forward into a competitive, global society.

CLIMATE AND CULTURE

At their best, schools are a reflection of their community and provide an incubator of hope and a source of empowerment for every student. Education must aspire to be more than an equalizer. For the People believes schools must say yes to bringing together students, families and communities for individual and collective betterment and must themselves be a community where students and families feel safe, welcome, included and supported.

Recommendations:

  • Establish quality standards for climate and culture.
  • Implement an intentional plan to achieve equity in all schools.
  • Recruit and fund full-time health professionals.
  • Ensure all schools have access to a school resource officer or coordinator.
  • Make schools the conduit to build community.

LEARNING, TEACHING AND ASSESSING FOR STUDENT SUCCESS

No two children are the same. Educators have always known that to be true, even as policy and practice have struggled to adjust to that reality. For the People believes all schools and all educators must say yes to equitable educational opportunities for every student that rely on well-prepared, effective teachers empowered with opportunities for ongoing professional growth and provided with timely access to information and resources to support the diverse learning needs of students.

Recommendations:

  • Provide adequate and equitable access for college, career and citizenship.
  • Utilize data to inform instruction and advance student progress.
  • Provide equitable and accessible transformative technology for classrooms.
  • Prepare emergency certified and alternatively certified teachers for success.
  • Support clinical practice for teaching candidates.
  • Provide professional development for all teachers.

EARLY AND EXPANDED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENT SUCCESS

Learning should never stop. Learning opportunities for children outside traditional school structures are necessary to support the educational success of all children. For the People believes this is best accomplished through the intentional collaboration of ideas and resources between local schools, families, communities and businesses with support as necessary from the state.

Recommendations:

  • Establish district and community partnerships for early and expanded learning.
  • Identify a statewide early and expanded assessment program.
  • Grow support for early childhood programs.
  • Provide equitable access to services.
  • Facilitate year-round before-, after- and summer-school programs.
  • Provide expanded career services.

GOVERNANCE, LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Strong leadership welcomes continuous school improvement while recognizing the complexity of the task at hand. For the People believes local and state education regulations and policies should embrace the local control dynamic as a means to enhance ownership, transparency and accountability for student success and innovation.

Recommendations:

  • Examine the training requirements for board members to determine if the current system is best for school governance.
  • Increase quality instructional time.
  • Support research-based ways to improve efficiency or educational attainment through innovation and technology, focusing on what best meets the learning needs of students.
  • Utilize technology to increase transparency and communication. Establish guidelines and provide technological resources for districts to use the internet as a means of communication with the community, parents and students allowing for openness and transparency.
  • Establish policies and support for innovative approaches by which public schools can provide additional options for optimizing learning for all students.

HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT

The teacher shortage is at the center of the gap between the learning goals of Oklahoma students and the capacity of schools to transform dreams into reality. For the People believes leaders at all levels and the state must emphasize valuing, retaining and recruiting high-quality teachers as a chief priority and an essential means through which our state and its children will reach their full potential.

Recommendations:

  • Recruit top high school graduates to become education majors.
  • Incentivize top college graduates to become Oklahoma teachers.
  • Strengthen traditional and non-traditional teacher preparation pathways.
  • Offer means of ongoing professional growth and support for educators.
  • Address recruitment, preparation and retention.
  • Elevate the cultural value of public education.

PHYSICAL RESOURCES

Oklahoma has obvious equity gaps in student access to quality, safe facilities; modern technology infrastructure and resources; and safe transportation. For the People believes excellent learning conditions contribute to improved student achievement and that all students deserve to learn in facilities that are clean, safe, well maintained and conducive to learning.

Recommendation:

  • Provide equitable facilities and infrastructure for all Oklahoma students.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES

A free public education that prepares students for their future and serves as an economic engine for the state is an investment, not an expense. For the People believes the state must stay the path of aggressively but steadily improving long-term investment in public education so students and our state can thrive.

Recommendations:

  • Provide adequate and equitable funding for all students, regardless of locale or background.
  • Recruit and retain teachers.
  • Review and revise policy to support financial efficiency.
  • Create a capital improvement formula and mechanism to fund the Oklahoma Building Equalization Fund.
  • Consider student population changes when making budget decisions.
  • Create an education sustainability fund to stabilize education funding within an ever-changing economy.

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