I’ve watched this several times now, and I’m not going to lie: I get a little emotional. My daughter is only two years out from attending Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools created this video for their annual campaign. They go to many schools and interview all kinds of people – students, volunteers, teachers, administrators. I saw several faces I recognized from spending a week at John Marshall High School. One of those was Ashley Bahtahou. (You can see her at about 1:35 into the video.) I didn’t interview her, but I saw her so many times throughout the week. She’s one of those students who is involved in everything, and you can tell that she’s respected and admired by other students. She was phenomenal during track practice. She was fast, sure, but she was so encouraging of her other teammates. She’s a neat kid.
What she said in the video was so striking to me because it’s the same thing I’ve heard over and over from students and teachers throughout the district: our reputation doesn’t reflect reality. Set aside the reputation and whether you think it’s deserved. To me, the saddest thing is that those kids all know what the city thinks of them. They know what the community says about Oklahoma City Public Schools. Children shouldn’t feel like the world around them expects them to fail. They should feel like everyone expects them to succeed.
Prepare yourself: There are a lot of numbers in this blog.
But what they reflect is important: the amount of money given to districts with a lot of children living in poverty. That actually makes Title I the largest federal school funding program, for which figures were released today.
Oklahoma received 15.8 percent more in Title I school funding allocations this year than last year, the seventh-highest percentage increase of all the states, according to a report by the Center on Education Policy.
Title I funding nationally totaled $13.8 billion, and all states had increases except for Wisconsin.
The 2008-09 allocations, which in Oklahoma total $148.5 million, are based on the number of low-income children in the 2005 calendar year. Oklahoma was one of 17 states that saw a more than 10% increase in the number of low-income children from the 2004 to 2005 calendar years.
Oklahoma’s percentage of low-income children spiked 16.8 percent, a smaller jump than only Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, Nebraska and Idaho.
This spreadsheet shows how much each district in the state was allocated. Districts will likely receive less than their allocations after state adjustments for things like boundary changes and charter schools.
The districts in Oklahoma with the highest allocations are:
Oklahoma City – $22,277,435
Tulsa – $18,109,977
Lawton – $4,477,234
Putnam City – $4,431,600
Midwest City-Del City – $2,982,065
The districts in Oklahoma with the lowest allocations are:
Stidham – $8,545
Peckham – $0
Plainview (the one in Cimarron County) – $0
Reydon – $0
Straight – $0
Click here if you’re interested in how districts in other states fared.
Less than 1 percent of public school students in Oklahoma attend charter schools, and Oklahomans make up less than half a percent of the nation’s total population of charter students.
But there were still 4,708 students enrolled in charters here last year — more than 4,000 students to whom charters do matter.
That figure is according to the new Annual Survey of America’s Charter Schools by The Center for Education Reform.
Jeanne Allen, the center’s president, calls the results “educational for the uninitiated, solace for the skeptics and fodder for the fans.”
So whether you find this information to be educational, solace or fodder, here are some highlights:
- -There are 1.2 million students in about 4,100 charter schools nationwide. There are about 4,700 students in 15 charters in Oklahoma.
-Demand is growing, based on the size of wait lists that grew 33 percent over the previous year. However, growth dipped for the first time ever due to caps in some states.
-Charter schools operate with less public funding than regular schools.
-About 40 percent of charters serve majority-minority populations.
-A sampling of state data shows charter schools consistently outperform their conventional counterparts. (Locally, Dove Science Academy, a charter school in Oklahoma City, has the highest API score in the state.)
And while the report did not draw the conclusion that all schools should be able to close the racial achievement gap because charter schools are raising minorities’ performance, others have used this type of data to make that argument.
That thought reminded me of something a presenter said at the Hechinger Institute seminar I attended earlier this month in New York.
Professor Douglas Ready said that there is a selection bias in play, that the low-income, single-parent, minority children in the charter schools are not the same as the low-income, single-parent, minority children in traditional schools.
Their parents are in some way different in that they found reason and time to take a proactive stance in enrolling their children in such a school, Ready said.
Share your thoughts on charter schools in the comment section below.
When I left home this morning, I told my preschooler that Mommy was getting her eyes fixed today and wouldn’t have to wear glasses anymore.
I was going to get Lasik surgery today, and was giddy with anticipation.
So giddy that I forgot to verify the appointment day and time.
It’s not until next week, I found out when I arrived at the doctor’s office.
Darn, another week of spectacles. I’ve worn contacts since middle school but to prepare for surgery, I’ve been wearing my glasses for about a month now.
Still, all good things come to those who wait, right?
Will my daughter need eyeglasses one day? She has no signs of poor vision.
But she’s got my genetics — which pretty much destines her to bad eyes and crooked teeth — both completely fixable by modern medicine.
Besides, wearing glasses isn’t a bad thing … some well-sighted celebrities wear them just to make a fashion statement.
I clearly remember the day I got my first pair. I was in second grade, I think.
On the drive home, I was astounded by a clarity of vision I’d never before known. Edges were sharper, colors were brighter, the shapes whizzing by were recognizable — at last!
But not all children are as lucky as I was to have access and money for vision care, especially those in developing countries.
The World Health Organization estimates that 153 million people have uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism). Refractive errors can be easily corrected with eyeglasses, yet millions in undeveloped nations lack access to basic eye care.
That’s why Lions Club International has long served as collector of used prescription eyeglasses, which are cleaned and distributed to needy people around the world.
Go to www.lionsclubs.org to see if a chapter in your area has a drop-off site.
Also, a coworker tells me that LensCrafters stores also collect used eyeglasses to give to the less fortunate.
When I do make my donation, I’ll probably take my daughter with me, so that she sees how helping yourself can also mean helping others.
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
Did you know that 55,000 people die every year from rabies, a disease that is 100 percent preventable?
The majority of victims are children that live in poverty, often in undeveloped countries.
Two Oklahoma State University students, Alex Glover and Jennifer Moreno, aim to help prevent the deaths by raising money with a 5K Race for Rabies at 8 a.m. Sept. 8 at Boomer Lake in Stillwater.
The entry fee is $20 and includes a T-shirt. And dogs can even join their owners, provided they have current proof of rabies vaccination.
The proceeds will go to the Alliance for Rabies Control. Also OSU veterinary students will be eligible to win a symposium by international rabies experts and can apply for a two-week internship at a field site in Africa.
For more information, contact Moreno at firstname.lastname@example.org
Surprisingly, at least to me, no Oklahoma school districts were included in The Rural School and Community Trust’s “Rural 400″ poorest districts list as detailed in the Virginia-based organization’s June “Rural Policy Matters” newsletter.
Texas has the most districts on the list, with seven; Arizona has 38; Kentucky has 20; New Mexico has 19; Mississippi has 26; California has 40; Louisiana has seven; Alabama has nine and West Virginia has seven.
In other words, 80 percent of “Rural 400″ students are in the above nine states.
The organization identified the 7,604 districts nationwide with at least 50 percent of students attending schools in rural communities. The group then identified the 400 districts with the highest Title I eligibility rate.
The poorest 400 rural districts are spread among 29 states and educate about 478,000 children a year, the organization reported.
The 400 districts constitute about 5 percent of all rural districts but educate about 13 percent of all rural Title I students. The districts range from two to 16,958 students.
Also interesting: The organization reported that enrollment in public schools in rural communities with fewer than 2,500 people from 2002-05 increased by 15 percent nationwide.
Any thoughts on this?
Working Poor — It’s not an oxymoron.
Many Oklahomans fall into this category — they work many hours but don’t earn enough to make ends meet. Add college courses into the mix and it becomes a real catch 22.
A national report released today says nearly half of working poor adults are enrolled in higher education half-time or less. They are trying to better their lives by gaining a credential, but because they must also work, they can’t take a full load of classes every year.
Going part-time — along with a lack of adequate financial aid — greatly hinders their ability to finish their degree.
Of course, many Oklahomans do make it to the end — taking the longer, harder road to graduation.
We want to hear from Oklahomans who are working, supporting themselves or families, while going to college.
Email me at email@example.com