In 1990, Oklahoma became the first state to pass a term-limits law. Now, the University of Oklahoma’s Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center is home to a collection of 14 interviews featuring the first group of Oklahoma state senators impacted by term limits. Due to the law, they left office in 2004.
“With the departure of these members, we stood to lose a tremendous amount of institutional memory,” said Cindy Simon Rosenthal, director and curator of the Carl Albert Center. “This collection of interviews allows us to capture some of that memory for future study.” Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee called the collection “an important narrative of the history and politics of the Oklahoma Senate from those who actually lived it. This collection forms an essential knowledge base for historians — now and in the future.”The oral history project was the result of the combined efforts of the Oklahoma Senate’s Communication Division, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority and the Carl Albert Center.
The Senate Oral History Collection includes 14 DVD interviews capturing the memories and impressions of Sens. Jim Dunlap, R-Bartlesville; Mike Fair, R-Oklahoma City; Charles Ford, R-Tulsa; Sam Helton, D-Lawton; Maxine Horner, D-Tulsa; Rick Littlefield, D-Grove; Jim Maddox, D-Lawton; Angela Monson, D-Oklahoma City; Bruce Price, D-Hinton; Ben Robinson, D-Muskogee; Herb Rozell, D-Tahlequah; Mark Snyder, R-Edmond; Dick Wilkerson, D-Atwood; and Penny Williams, D-Tulsa.
The collection includes interviews from two members who rose to national prominence during their tenure: Monson became the first black woman and first Oklahoman to serve as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Dunlap became the first Oklahoman to serve as president of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Undergraduate women attending Oklahoma colleges and universities are encouraged to apply for a five-day summer leadership program designed to encourage women to consider careers in politics and public service. Oklahoma women attending out-of-state institutions also are eligible for the program.
The eighth annual National Education for Women’s (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute, designed to encourage women to consider careers in politics and public service, is scheduled May 19-23 at the University of Oklahoma Norman.
Sponsored by OU’s Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, N.E.W. Leadership is part of a national training network created by the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. Participants will gain skills in community organizing, public speaking, leadership, team building, negotiation and conflict resolution.
“They also will meet Oklahoma women office holders, public administrators and local activists, spend time at the Oklahoma Capitol and attend a reception celebrating female political leaders,” says Katie Fitzgerald, program director.
About 30 undergraduate women from diverse backgrounds will be selected for this year’s program. Students interested in politics and leadership are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is March 5. An online application and additional program information are available at the N.E.W. Leadership Web site, www.ou.edu/carlalbertcenter/leadership.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the ninth annual K20 Winter Institute, which will bring people from education, government, business, and non-profit agencies together to examine and discuss ways to prepare students for the modern and future workplace.
The institute is scheduled 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at the new Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center, 2501 Conference Drive, in Norman. It’s open to anyone from any discipline who is interested in learning about advances in education.
Participants can attend any number of 60 sessions, and the registration cost including lunch is $25. To register, see the session titles and schedule, or for any other information, visit http://k20winterinstitute.com or call 325-1267.
– Staff writer James S. Tyree
Today is the last day of a regional conference of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Educators from as close as Oklahoma City and as far as Australia have been leading upward of 200 workshops since Wednesday to examine how to analyze what students do and don’t understand about math and then use that information to teach them in more effective ways.
Among the presenters is Taft Middle School’s Heather Sparks, who became the state’s Teacher of the Year last month. She led a session yesterday involving robots, and is leading one this afternoon incorporating puppetry into algebra, spokeswoman Gaye Dillin told me.
What creative ways of learning math do you use or remember learning in the classroom?
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader will speak about Oklahoma’s ballot access law and the current presidential campaign at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa on Thursday at 1 p.m. in the Auditorium.
“Open the Debates” is the theme of Nader’s remarks, which reflect the Nader and vice presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez campaign’s call for inclusive, democratic presidential debates.
Nader will also address
OSU-Tulsa is located at 700 North Greenwood Avenue, near I-244 and Detroit Avenue. For more information, contact the Nader campaign at 202-471-5833.
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 New Yorkers say that 90 degrees is sweltering, I’ll no longer look at our weather map of triple-digit temperatures and scoff.
Here, we go from an air conditioned house to an air conditioned car to an air conditioned workplace.
In New York City at an education seminar this past weekend, I went from an air conditioned hotel to a subway station more appropriately referred to as a sauna, then up the stairs to conquer a few more blocks of pavement before reaching my air conditioned destination.
All with my laptop bag on my shoulder. So heat is all relative. This is one of the things I learned at the Hechinger Institute’s seminar for new education reporters.
Lifestyle differences aside, I learned an incredible amount about reporting on education. I was an eager student for three days, absorbing everything I could from the speakers and taking copious notes for everything I could possibly need to review later on.
I want to share a few interesting notes with you.
Oklahoma singled out
First, Oklahoma got a shout-out in a session about prekindergarten.
Albert Wat with Pre-K Now cited the Sooner State in his presentation for having at least 70 percent of eligible students enrolled statewide. We’re one of only three states (Georgia and Florida are the others) to enroll more than 50 percent of all 4-year-olds.
He specifically talked about Tulsa, where a study showed that all races of students gained from one year of enrollment, and noted that Oklahoma pre-K teachers are paid equivalent to K-12 teachers, which he said doesn’t often happen.
A few degrees of separation
There was another Oklahoma tie in the presentation about academic rigor, even if by a stretch.
One of the two presenters was Jerry Weast, superintendent of Montgomery County Schools.
If that school district sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the last place John Porter worked before moving from Maryland to Oklahoma for his abbreviated tenure as superintendent of Oklahoma City schools.
Working in uni(s)on
Another highlight was hearing from Randi Weingarten, who was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers just five days earlier.
Weingarten advocated for “real collaboration” — politically and practically.
Politically, that means doing reform with teachers, not to teachers, she said. And practically, she’d like to see a collaboration of services that put after-school enrichment, medical clinics and parent help in the school building.
‘Physicians of the mind’
During the Q&A afterward, I asked Weingarten what she thought the union’s role is in recruiting enough teachers in the first place.
“In this instance, money does matter a lot,” she answered. After boosting starting teacher salaries in New York City by more than $5,000 in 2005, the hiring halls were filled and the number of uncertified teachers fell from 17 to 2 percent, she said.
Teachers want to be treated as professionals in their quest to better the lives of their students and the institutions in which they work, she said, adding that “teachers are physicians of the mind.”
I’m thankful for the opportunities I had to learn from and network with experts and colleagues across the nation, and I can’t wait to start putting all my newfound story ideas and tips to work.
It was all made possible by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Columbia University’s Teachers College, which is supported by various philanthropies, including the well known Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Oh, and I’m also thankful I won’t have to wait in underground, un-air conditioned subway stations again any time soon.
I wrote a story for Monday’s paper about what Vinita’s Hall-Halsell Elementary School is doing to maximize the time in the school day.
Hall-Halsell Principal Cathy Williams provided a local perspective on what other schools can expect from time reform efforts in the coming year. But what about a national perspective?
“Oklahoma is part of a growing national movement to rethink the way that time is being used in schools,” said Leigh Hopkins, national network director for the National Center on Time & Learning.
“When you look at time reform as a whole — a longer school year or a longer school day — there are examples of more than 1,000 schools across the country that have added more time in one way or another,” she said.
The Boston-based center developed the free, online and exclusive-to-Oklahoma time assessment tool that Sooner schools must use this year.
Hopkins said the result of such efforts is that test scores go up, teachers have more time to work together, outside organizations forge stronger partnerships and parents are happy because their children have time for more electives and experiences.
Hopkins also was a part of presentations on the subject this month at the State Department of Education’s annual leadership conference.
The teachers and superintendents who attended seemed receptive to the plans, she said.
Added Hopkins: “We actually had a few people come up to us and say, ‘It’s about time.’ ”
Do you think it’s time for a change? Share your thoughts with others here on NewsOK’s Education Station.
Oh, and speaking of time, I’ve been away for a few days at a seminar in New York for education reporters. Check back for my next posting about the highlights of my trip, from the subway to the speakers.
In my last blog post I shared an e-mail from a teacher. Today I’ll share another.
Pam Blevins of Moore schools, who is also the regional museum educator for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, wrote to tell me about eight Oklahoma teachers who attended a regional workshop in Flagstaff, Ariz., last month.
The workshop was geared to teachers who had previously attended programs at the national memorial museum — but Blevins said more could have been eligible to go.
We weren’t (able) to get in touch with many of the Belfer and Belfer II participants in Oklahoma as their email addresses and/or phone numbers were inaccurate. There are currently close to 100 participants in Oklahoma as well as 5 Museum Teacher Fellows in Oklahoma. We would like to get in touch with as many as possible in preparation for another regional conference as well as a gathering in Oklahoma. They may contact me at email@example.com, putting Belfer as the subject.
Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of those who went to Arizona.
From left: Nancy Pettus, Tulsa; Naomi Poindexter, Tulsa; Melinda Parks, Oklahoma City; Pam Blevins, Moore; Debra Hatler, Ketchum; Rhonda Snow, Moore; Kimberly Derby, Owasso; LouAnn Jones, Enid.
Wendy K. Kleinman
The Oklahoma Education Association for the first time hosted a conference this week about the role of faith communities in public schools. Today, The Oklahoman published a package of stories telling you what was discussed.
And now we want to know, what do you think?
Post your comments here to get a discussion going about whether and how faith communities should – or shouldn’t – get involved in their neighborhood schools.