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Letters to the Editor

A failed philosophy

Jamie Burnette January 18th, 2013

A big, heartfelt, thank-you goes to Bill Bleakley for his commentary, “Hey, Legislature, nothing’s happening here!” (Dec. 11, 2012, Oklahoma Gazette) His words echoed those of many of us who have been banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall as we watch the decline of our schools.

I agree with Bleakley that we do have some well-meaning board members, educators and civic leaders who have made sincere attempts to address the ever-growing problems with our schools. I also agree these attempts have resulted in failures, except for some successful efforts in specific schools.

It is these “specific, successful schools” I would like to address.

I am an Oklahoma City Public School parent. I am an advocate of public education and a firm believer in parental partnership with the OKCPS Board of Education. I am excited by the strong cross support beginning to build between a group of parents of public schools across the metro, and I am proud to be one of those parents.

A new wind is blowing, and with it comes parents who are passionate about their children’s education and are thrilled over the public school options available to them.

I write to express my concern regarding the current philosophy the district appears to have adopted as its “one size fits all” panacea to fix an insurmountable problem with our schools. The philosophy is “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

District Superintendent Karl Springer needs to understand this is not a viable solution. It does not make sense to punish your stronger, successful schools by robbing them of resources in an attempt to bring up weaker performers.

The goal should be to continue to support your high-performing schools and use them as models for others. The answer should be creating new resources for those schools in need, not creating a slow atrophy by depleting successful schools of resources.

The OKCPS Board of Education has a new catchphrase they have used repeatedly at meetings with parents. That phrase is “equanimity.” I looked up the word and the definition is as follows: mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness.

It is my belief that Springer has created the opposite of “equanimity.” He has created an environment that is lacking stability and calmness. We feel as if our precious school resources are being threatened, and this is not acceptable.

There is a better solution. I believe a strong parental partnership with OKCPS can help create that solution.

So, whether a commission is created to operate the district or the structure remains the same, I ask that you remember there is a pool of parents out there who would make a vibrant, insightful task force.

And who knows? We may even be able to help get this ship back on course.

—Jamie Burnette, Oklahoma City

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