Parents, teachers and students can give their input in the search for the next principal of John Marshall High School.
The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and the school district will host a community meeting at 6 tonight at the school, 12201 N Portland, to discuss the qualities people want in the next principal.
Corey Harris, who has served as principal for the last two years, is leaving the district for a job in another state at the end of the school year.
Over the next few weeks, young men and women from around the state will walk across a stage and receive one of the most important documents of their lives so far – a diploma.No matter students’ future plans, this should not prompt them to close the book on their education. Graduation needs to mark the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.
At this moment, graduating seniors are making some important choices about what happens next, including whether to go to college, CareerTech or the workforce. This is the time for family members to help make sure graduates are considering all the possibilities and gathering information about the opportunities available to them.
It is amazing how many choices graduates have in the world today. When I graduated from Stilwell High School, there were not that many paths to a
career. Now the possibilities seem endless.
This past year, more women had earned high school diplomas, as well as associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, than men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008″
The bureau also reports that workers in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree earn about $26,000 more on average than workers with a high school diploma. Thus, the decisions young Oklahomans make now will have a dramatic impact on what their future holds.
I hope all high school students are discussing their ideas with family members and other adults they trust, and perhaps are even seeking the opinions of those working in the career fields in which they are interested or already know they would like to pursue.
Making rigid life plans are not necessary. Being inquisitive, ambitious and attaining marketable skills and knowledge are what is important, as career paths can often change several times in life. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that Americans change jobs an average of 10 times during their working life.
Back in 2004, Secretary of Education Richard Riley reported that the top 10 jobs that will be in demand in 2010 were not in existence and would be using technologies that had not been invented. This is why learning how to learn new skills is key.
Graduation is an exciting time and I hope each and every young person will make the most of the choices that lie ahead.
Learning continues in school, in life or on the job. Remember that graduation is not the end of something old, but the beginning of something new.
Our state remains at the forefront of early childhood education and has quickly become an early model for the rest of the country.
What started back in the mid-1980s as a pilot Pre-Kindergarten program changed in a major way in 1998. That year, the Legislature began funding Pre-Kindergarten as a voluntary grade, and schools began receiving formula funding if they offered it.
Moving Pre-Kindergarten into the school funding formula made it possible for every four-year-old in our state to attend public preschool if their parents choose to enroll them. Nearly three-fourths do.
Oklahoma is 1 of 9 states that provides Pre-Kindergarten through its school funding formula, according to Pre-K Now’s nonpartisan annual report “Leadership Matters” issued on May 5.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recent annual report, “The State of Preschool 2008,” Oklahoma remains the only state where schools serve all four-year-old children enrolled with a certified teacher.
The report says that “research shows that high-quality Pre-Kindergarten can help improve the educational success of all children and by doing so, decrease school failure and dropout rates, and crime and delinquency. In addition, high-quality preschool education has been found to improve economic productivity and health.” Educators and parents realize how important an early start is.
While not required of schools, 99 percent of school districts in our state offer a Pre-Kindergarten program and 71 percent of all Oklahoma four-year-old children attend. There are now more than 35,000 children in Oklahoma who attend Pre-Kindergarten classes daily, with a little more than half of the in full-day programs.
For the last six years, NIEER has continually ranked Oklahoma first in the nation in access to education relating to the percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled. NIEER maintains that our program is a national model, and we stand out for many reasons:
§ Early childhood teachers must hold at least a bachelor ’s degree, pass an Early Childhood certification test and be paid on the same salary schedule as other public school teachers;
Classes are kept small; and Curriculum is aligned as part of our state’s Pre-K through 12th grade core curriculum, the Priority Academic Student Skills.
We constantly search for ways to strengthen and broaden our programs to find what works best for children. One such option is for school districts to partner with outside groups within their community. We have Pre-K programs operating in Head Start, tribal and faith-based facilities but with the public school providing the teacher, curriculum and learning materials.
Partnerships have also been made with child-care centers that have high state ratings.
All students enrolled in public Pre-K programs outside of a public school setting receive the same services as students in a typical classroom setting.
Oklahoma’s early childhood program is a good investment and the key to a brighter future for our state.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on April 26 declared a public health emergency for the H1N1 virus, also being referred to as “swine flu.” As I write this column, the World Health Organization is indicating this is a Category 5 health emergency, one step away from an official pandemic.
Gov. Brad Henry has asked all citizens to be vigilant and make every effort to help prevent the spread of the virus. Fortunately, there are no confirmed cases of H1N1 in Oklahoma yet.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is the lead state agency in Oklahoma’s prevention and intervention effort. The Oklahoma State Department of Education is working in partnership with the Health Department and other state agencies.
While this is an international concern, we would remind parents and school employees of the pivotal role each of them plays in preventing the spread of illness among school children.
Strategies for preventing swine flu, its symptoms, and up-to-date information on the public health emergency, including information sheets that can be distributed to parents and schools in English and Spanish, are available from the Health Department’s Web site, which we have linked on our home page
www.sde.state.ok.us. OSDH has set up a hotline for sharing information with citizens, (866) 278-7134.