Friday, December 23, 2005

A Response to Anne

My computer has been having problems lately, so I've had to resort to accessing the internet at other places. I would like to elaborate just a bit for Anne's sake. She took the time to post a comment on my last blog.

First of all, I don't suffer from a martyr's complex. I don't go around thinking everyone's got it out for me. I was intimately involved in a charter school initial start up and three years of operations. I was involved locally, at the state level, and at the national level via the national charter school conventions. I do know what I'm talking about.

Opposition from the teachers union:

While attending a state level meeting a few years back, a represetative from the Oklahoma teacher's union came to speak to our charter school group. He stated the union's opposition to charter schools. I must admit, it took guts for him to say that to a group of charter school people. After questioning him a bit, he indicated he personally wasn't opposed, but he was stating the position of the union.

By the way, the Tulsa charter schools employ a majority of teachers with experience. The charter school law states that one of the reason for the law is to improve the opportunities for educators. This indeed is happening.

Opposition from TPS:

When we started up an unofficial TPS campaign of misinformation was launched. We were not accredited, we did not hire certified teachers, we "cherry-picked our students, etc. All lies.

I contacted the TPS Education Service Center to get an application for a charter school. I was told they did not have one and we would have to get it from the State Department of Education. We contacted the SDE and they said it was the districts responsibility. Three years earlier TPS provided TSAS with an application. It was obvious that they were stonewalling.

After the last application you mentioned, Dr. Sawyer publicly announced his oppostion to opening of any more charter schools in Tulsa. So far, not one more has opened. I think everyone knows not to bother, since it won't be approved anyway, and the application is a lot of work!

Have you ever wondered why the Tulsa World doesn't publish any articles about T-Town's 3 charter schools? Word is, they won't fire anything across the bow of TPS on this. Charter schools threaten the status quo of TPS, but offer a real alternative to the traditional public school.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Jump Start for Tulsa's Public Education

We know that Tulsa Public Schools are failing and new leadership and ideas are needed. We also now know that Dr. David Sawyer is retiring and that two TPS School Board members are up for election early in 2006. We have city elections for mayor and councilors coming up next year. The time is ripe for change.

Into this situation, I would like to propose a type of charter school incubator. What I am talking about is a place where interested people could learn the skills necessary to propose, design and implement a successful charter school. I think this should be initiated by the new mayor of Tulsa next year. It needs the full weight of the City of Tulsa behind it.

With the aid of Tulsa, the incubator would find proper charter school buildings at no cost or low cost rent. There is plenty of space available for occupancy. It could aid in recruiting and training qualified board members, as each charter school must have an independent board to oversee the disbursement of public funds for education. Just these two areas, buildings and boards, would go a long way to solving two of the most pressing problems of charter schools.

Most rational people would ask themselves, how do I start a charter school? Those same rational people would need all the help they could get. And there is a lot of help out there. There are schools to design, curriculum to assemble, contracts to draft, teachers to hire, tables, chairs, and supplies to order. It is daunting. The incubator could help with all of this and have a place to put it all together.

With an incubator, charter schools would be perceived more as city or community schools, instead of neighborhood schools. As true schools of choice, students from all over Tulsa would attend them because they want to attend them, not because they have to attend them.

I am sure I could help arrange for some matching grant money to increase the number of charter schools in Tulsa.

Initially, OKC embraced charter schools and included them in their MAPS master plan. In the same time frame, OKC has opened about a dozen and Tulsa has been stuck at three since 2001.

Since charter schools challenge the status quo, and the status quo is so firmly entrenched in Oklahoma, charter schools in general have had an uphill struggle. They struggle with existing public schools, the teachers union, the TPS school board and so on. It is a testimony to Tulsa's three that they not only have survived, but flourished and the majority have overachieved.

Tulsa needs a push from the top leaders to get this reform initiative going here in T-Town. This is a creative and innovative way to begin to address at the city level the dismal state of public education. Tulsa will not flourish with increased economic development alone. Our public education system must be improved.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Exercise Your Privilege and Vote

Regardless of how you stand on the issues printed on the ballot in today's election, I encourage all registered voters to get out and vote!

Early news reports indicated that as usual voter turnout at mid-day was lite.

Hopefully, you will cast an informed vote. Do vote today and in the future, take the time to educate yourself about the issues.

I try to do that, most of the time. I must admit, it's hard to really get to know a candidate, with all the hype and rhetoric that goes on in elections. But this election is not about a candidate, so it was much easier to get informed.

My father passed away just over 7 years ago, after a prolonged and devastating illness, from ALS, or Lou Gherig's Disease. He was a great example and he taught me by his words and his deeds to a) fly my flag during major holidays, and b) vote. These two civic things I try to do. And when I do, I am reminded of him.

Bloggers tend to critical most of the time. But I mean this blog to be an encouragement to you. Yes, we have an imperfect system of government. It has been a 229 year experiment. It is OUR system, a republic, not a democracy.

Get informed.

Get involved.

Vote today!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tulsa County Isn't Broke, Don't Fix It!

The vote tomorrow on the "4 to Fix the County" and the $.50 fee on cell phones, will be determined by the good citizens of the CITY OF TULSA. It is in our control to determine the outcome of this election. We have the numbers of voters.

A lot is at stake. It is obvious to everyone that the CITY OF TULSA needs the municipal sales tax income stream instead of the County. Although we can all see the fruits of the County's improvements to such things as LaFortune Park and the Fairgrounds, 4 to Fix was always supposed to be a temporary tax.

Have you ever noticed how all these "temporary taxes" just keep getting extended?

The County of Tulsa has been in great shape for some time now. They are amassing tens of millions of dollars in excess tax revenue and that is forecasted to continue into the future. Why? Because with the continuous flight from Tulsa to the suburbs, the tide turned some years back. The major suburbs of Tulsa, Jenks, Broken Arrow and Owasso, have reached a critical mass. No longer do they need good ole T-Town for jobs. They now have more economic development that Tulsa. They have better schools too, so the trend will keep going.

My point here is that Tulsa County is in great shape.

Tulsa is not.

The County is not broke, so let's don't fix it!

Vote NO on everything. Give T-Town a chance to start recovering.

Also, vote no on the $.50 cell phone tax. It will go into a quagmire with the lack of accountability we see so often in local politics. We have to stop slopping the hogs trough with consistent tax increases, that includes this user fee.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A New Use for Corn

With the record setting prices of natural gas, it appears that people in the Corn-belt have started burning corn in specially designed stoves for heating. You see this lady in the picture pouring in the corn.

I used to work for the largest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer in North America, specifically in their natural gas procurement department. They consume over 160 Billion cubic feet of natural gas per year. Natural gas costs represent about 60% of the cost to manufacture nitrogen fertilizer. A whopping 44% of that fertilizer is used to grow corn. The corn needs the nitrogen fertilizer replaced every year as it leaches from the soil quickly.

My point is this: Although it would appear that people are saving money by burning corn, they in fact are contributing to the consumption of tremendous amounts of natural gas via the fertilizer it takes to grow such corn. It really doesn't make any sense to me, but it must be the fad aspect.

I found this link today on the drudgereport. You can link to it here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

In Search of Excellence

John-Kelly Warren is the chairman of the William K. Warren Foundation here in Tulsa. He wrote an interesting and insightful column for the paper. He looks to the future of Tulsa with a vision of excellence.

To reach that lofty goal he says we need to shift our focus away from the physical capital economy to one that stresses intellectual capital.

To compete Tulsa must replace physical capital with intellectual capital. People, knowledge and communication are the new basis for a competitive advantage. So, what must we do to become a city that attracts these jobs and workers? Interestingly, knowledge workers first choose where they want to live and then choose a job that allows them to live there. So, Tulsa must offer a quality of life like no other. It needs good schools, good higher education and ideally, a research university. It needs creative minds to inspire innovation. It must be a community that offers healthy living, physically and intellectually. Most importantly, we need to accept the new paradigm whereby employers follow the knowledge workers. This has happened in Silicon Valley and Austin. A company or two lay the foundation, other employers follow and the cycle begins.

Tulsa has some fantastic schools. But it also has some of the very worst. It is that disparity that we the citizens need to address. Talk to each other about the need for really great schools, ones that will inspire and educate our kids and arm them with the things they will need to build the city of excellence envisioned by Mr. Warren and others.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Filing Deadline Nears

According to the Tulsa County Election Board, the deadline is nearing for filing for one of two open spots in the Tulsa Public School Board. The filing period is December 5-7, 2005 and the election is in February of 2006.

The open spots are for Districts #4 and #7.
District #7 is currently held by Matt Livingood the TPS School Board

From the TPS website:
Mr. Livingood, currently serving as president of the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education, was appointed to the Board of Education in October 2001 and was elected to the post in February 2002. His term will expire February 2006.

Mr. Livingood is a solo attorney in private general practice with expertise in family law, small business matters and in dispute mediation. He is an owner and principal in Just Decisions, LLC, a dispute resolution service firm. He earned a B.A. from the University of Louisville in 1973 and a J.D. from the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville in 1980. He taught middle school grades for six years at St. Francis School in Goshen, Kentucky.

Mr. Livingood and his wife, Laura, have two children, Kate and Matthew, who attended and graduated from Tulsa Public Schools. As a school volunteer, he served on an elementary school advisory council and helped found and served on three different local school foundations.

Livingood is an active, life-long member of the Episcopal Church. He is a lay member of the Oakerhater Community, an order within the Episcopal Church committed to supporting those engaged in ministries of reconciliation.

Schools in Mr. Livingood's election district include Carnegie, Grimes, Grissom, Patrick Henry, Key, Marshall and McClure elementary schools; Nimitz and Thoreau middle schools, and Memorial High School.

District #4 is currently held by Bobbie Gray.

From the TPS website:
Mrs. Gray was appointed to the Board of Education in January 1997 and was elected unopposed February 1998 and again in February 2002. She served as vice president from February 1999 through February 2000. Her current term will expire February 2006.

For the past 16 years Mrs. Gray has served in such leadership roles as a commissioner on the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (6 years); a member of Vision 2000, Riverside Task Force, Citizens for Tulsa, Tulsa's Education Task Force, etc. Currently she belongs to HOT (Homeownership Tulsa), the Mayor's Substandard Housing Task Force, East Tulsa Prevention Coalition and teaches monthly first-time home buyer classes. Although she has been a licensed realtor in Tulsa for over 23 years, she is now a home mortgage consultant for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Mrs. Gray has lived in east Tulsa for over 22 years. She has been married for almost 30 years and to Richard Gray and has four children and 8 grandchildren. All of her children attended Tulsa Public Schools and graduated from East Central High School. In her spare time she spends time with family and loves to fish.

Schools in Mrs. Gray's election district include Columbus, Cooper, Disney, Kerr, Lindbergh, Mayo, Newcomer, Peary, Sandburg, and Skelly elementary schools; Zarrow International School; Foster and Lewis & Clark middle schools; and East Central High School.

TPS Board members have a thankless job and I give them a tip of the hat. However, we all know that the entrenched bureacrats run the show and will quickly indoctrinate any new initiate. We could stand some new blood on the TPS school board though....

What Will It Take?

This is really nothing new for T-Town. Yeah, our public school system overall is bad. It made the "needs improvement" list again. You can link to an article about it here.

Here is the gist of the article;

1-30-05 - Low test scores and graduation rates prompted state education officials to order 22 Oklahoma school districts, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, to improve based on federal No Child Left Behind standards.

Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the state's two largest districts, both were criticized for low graduation rates in a report presented to the state Board of Education on Tuesday.

Schools are graded on test scores, graduation rates and the number of students who take end-of-course tests. Those failing to meet those benchmarks for two consecutive years make the "needs improvement" list.

Appearing on the list a second year, but not showing improvement are: Commerce, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Western Heights.

Appearing on the list a second year, but showing improvement are: Broken Arrow, Cache, Cameron, Canadian, Crooked Oak, Edmond, Grandfield, Idabel, Keota, McCurtain, Midwest City-Del City, Millwood, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Putnam City, Shawnee, Wynnewood, and Wynona.

Do you see a trend?

The two largest public school districts in the state, Tulsa and OKC are the two worst. Broken Arrow and Edmond, the third and fourth largest cities in Oklahoma are now also on the list. Midwest City, Del City and Putnam City are also larger cities with larger schools and districts.

I am convinced that larger schools breed the apathy among students and staff alike. Students can literally disappear and fall through the cracks, while teachers are overwhelmed with behavior problems, special needs kids and paperwork.

One greatly needed reform is for smaller schools. I'm talking about high schools with less than 300 students max. That way, everyone knows everyone and you might be able to build a family-type learning conducive environment.

The old ways of traditional education coupled with the mores and attitudes of the public are not enough to reform the public education system. It will have to be reformed from without.

I know you are all sick of me beating this drum. I just hope that someday, someone with some authority will pick up on it. I think it is THE MOST CRITICAL FACTOR TO GETTING TULSA BACK ON ITS FEET!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish all of you a very happy and joyous Thanksgiving. It is the best holiday of the year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One too many verses of "Just As I Am"?

I heard on KFAQ this morning that the pastor of Tulsa's Victory Christian Center, Billy Joe Daugherty, was assaulted by someone during last Sunday's altar call. Apparently someone came forward and proceeded to punch Mr. Daugherty in the face several times, requiring stitches.

Although I have tried to find out more, I have been unable to.

This is serious business. Why do we have so little information?

Was it a case of an irate husband? One too many verses for the invitation? Or a blatant case of a hate crime against a Christian?

Was the person arrested?

Is it time for all churches to take steps to protect their pastor?


It seems that no sooner did I blog about this incident that Fox23 had a news feature about it. Also, Channel 8 has more here.

It was an unprovoked attack from Steven Rogers, apparently transported to Victory from the John 3:16 mission. Rogers was arrested for assault and taken to jail.

Pastor Daugherty was stunned and turned around by the blows, but did not retaliate (not being pugnacious is a quality of a pastor) but simply got back in his pulpit and started speaking about forgiveness! What a great example of Jesus Christ!

Terrorist-In-Training Records Unsealed

It appears that the files previously sealed by the FBI have been released on the Joel Hinrichs III case. It was made public Friday after U.S. Magistrate Valerie Couch ruled there was no need to keep the records of the search of Hinrichs' apartment, e-mail account and nine OU computers sealed.

FBI agents found the same type of volatile high explosive TATP used by the the now infamous shoe bomber Richard Reid, and in the recent suicide bombings in London inside the apartment of Hinrichs. Federal agents found mixing bowls, a slow cooker, a thermometer, plastic containers, a hobby fuse, a circuit board, six tape rolls, and bomb-making chemicals as well in their search.

As we have just seen in the recent hotel bombings in Jordan, even the best laid plans of the suicide bombing terrorists can go up in smoke :). We all saw the woman on TV whose explosive belt failed to detonate. This suicide bombing stuff is very tricky business.

I can only assume that Joel Henry Hinrichs III intended to blow up more than himself as he contemplated his move outside the packed OU football stadium in October. However, the volatile TATP had the upper hand, along with the Providence of God to thwart his evil plans and his scheme only succeeded in ending his life.

Perhaps we will never know the full story. How involved was he in the Norman Islamic Society located a block away from his apartment? What about all the witnesses who saw him there frequently? No one in Oklahoma will rest any easier this night in light of these unsealed records.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Roemerman is Right

Fellow TulsaBlogger, Steven Roemerman, has a new blog entry you can link to here. Its about flipping the 4 to fix the county tax back to the city of Tulsa. As he points out, the city needs it way more than the county right now.

I agree with Steven, but I want to add these comments about Tulsa's public education; our public education system does not need more money to fix it.

What it does need is for the leadership of Tulsa (elected officials) to focus on it and do what they can to influence parents about the great importance of a sound public education.

Yes, we badly need improved streets and public safety. But until and unless we turn around our public education system, Tulsa, my hometown, will not turn around.

It's a tough nut to crack, since the majority of people who care squat about public education, have either died, moved, or are in extreme apathy. It would appear that few in Tulsa care anymore about our public schools.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It rings hollow......

Last night the principal of Clinton Middle School took reporters on a tour of her facility. She pointed out and complained about the number of stairways, the leaking roof, the plumbing and the lack of elevators.

If this bond election passes today, Clinton is scheduled to be demolished and a totally new school built. Not just repaired, but built from the ground up. It seems that the problems are just too insurmountable to consider fixing the place up. This will be the second school, BTW the first, to get a brand new school from our property taxes.

Isn't Clinton Middle School the site of the KIPP Academy? Or is it at Woods Elementary? Either way, its a major renovation. KIPP is the contract school just established by the TPS Board. Everyone in charter school circles knows that KIPP establishes charter schools across the country. Why doesn't TPS call it what it is? And how fair is it to other charter schools and Tulsa taxpayers to provide a facility for one and not the others?

By the way, am I the only product of TPS whose schools lacked air conditioning, elevators just for special ed students, stairwells galore, poor plumbing, etc.?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Role of Religion in Politics

Tulsa's blog hero, Michael Bates of, has written another editorial for the free Tulsa newspaper, Urban Tulsa. You can link to it here.

His concluding paragraph is included here,

If we want elected officials who are fearless to do what is right, we ought to look for men and women whose character has been shaped by confidence in a God who is bigger than any adversary they may face.

I agree.

He wrote this article to respond to some criticism for previous comments made in a blog. This is a fantastic article, and I encourage everyone to take the time to read and think about it. I wish I had Michael's amazing ability to articulate issues in such a logical, thorough, and readable way.

A few years ago, I found myself on a board of directors for a public entity. It was my first exerience, and although not an elected official, it nevertheless was extremely political. I am a Christian and by that I don't mean I am a religious person. To me, Christianity is not a religion, but a daily relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't just practice this on Sunday's or Wednesday's, but it is an intricate part of what I am every day. I can't help it!

I went in to the voluntary Board service, hoping to do what I could to help the organization. I wanted to see it succeed. I wanted to build a consensus. I wanted to used my abilities, talents, education, and skills to do what I could. I wanted to encourage others to pitch in and help. I had an almost Pollyanna attitude toward other Board members, projecting that they too had the very best in mind for the organization. Boy, did I have a lot to learn!

Politics is raw power. And it is a dirty business. After three years on the Board, I had to assess my effectiveness as a Board member. Every initiative I tried to undertake was thwarted. Meeting times were changed so I would be late. The President would not put items on the agenda for consideration. The use of executive sessions was overdone and away from the eye of public scrutiny. Research and reporting was dismissed or passed over. People's livelihoods and characters were damaged. Coalitions were formed. Nothing substantial to advance the organization happened at the Board meetings.

Does all this sound familiar?

After three years, I decided I was no longer effective as a Board member, and that my limited time and resources were better suited elsewhere.

I am a lot happier.

But I was a volunteer. I had chosen to volunteer my services. That's different from an elected official. However, the experiences share similarities.

I have watched the Tulsa City Council turmoil for the past several years. I have a great understanding of what is really going on. I am a Reagan Republican, but I feel a bond of unity with Councilors, Henderson, Turner, Mautino and Medlock. Local political issues transcend party lines, race, age, you name it. They can't help themselves either!

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Search for Something New

It seems that our society is one that for some time now, craves the new. We are easily bored with things in an ever-increasing frequency.

This is what is called the frantic search for happiness. It occurs every time man tries to assuage his conscience with things of this world. It's his effort to find peace, contentment and happiness. It's a form of greediness and ultimately idolatry. As King Solomon wrote in the Book of Ecclesiastes, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" Surely we all know his story, a man gifted by God with a great mind, great wealth, great power. He tried everything this ole world has to offer and in the end he says its empty, useless, vain. In the frantic search for happiness, greediness turns to insatiability.

Americans, long bored with Christianity, have eagerly embraced anything that comes along, promising an alternative. We see it in our dabbling with Hinduism and Eastern mysticism after the Beatles met the Maharishi Yogi.

Lately, our facination is with Islam. This is the so called "religion of peace" by our President. You want to find out more about this religion, then go here and see more about the radical side of Islam. And as many have noted, the moderates of Islam are strangely silent about the current events, bombings, murders, beheadings, etc. In my book their silence completely marginalizes them, so if they ever do speak out, no one will listen.

Why would anyone follow such a religion? Could it be that Christians too have been silent for too long? Have our churches prepared us to be defenders of our faith? Have we pooled our ignorance for so long we no longer know what it is we stand for, or Who it is we follow?

The Book, or the Bible is the most published and oldest book in existence. It is the most unique book of all time. Written over a thousand years, in different languages, by the most diverse set of men and women imaginable. Yet the story of the Messiah or the Savior is clearly and consistently weaved throughout its pages. It is God-inspired and infallable in the original autographs. It is the only Truth we have in this society. It has stood the test of time and it will stand against all adversaries, including Islam. So Michael DelGiorno, you can calm down, but thanks for raising our attention to the issues.

To study it and to know it is a lifetime endeavor. If we only had churches that will accurately handle it! If so, then it would be perceived as something new. And then, maybe, just maybe, we will see our society turn back to God and then find true peace, contentment and happiness.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Disturbing Trend

Empty houses in Tulsa. Here's a quick blog about a topic that has been rumbling around in the back of my mind and something brought it to memory center.

Is it just in my neighborhood or is it happening in yours also? In a two block radius of my home of 19 years, there are at least 4 houses sitting forlorn and empty. Several of them have been for more than two years now. It is a growing trend in the neighborhood and it does not bode well for the future.

These are not starter homes. They are $150,000+ homes sitting in the middle of town, in a very good location. So far the yards are being maintained, but as you know, a house that sits empty eventually looks empty and rundown.

Will this lead to lower property values and urban blight?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cultural Warfare in T-Town Pt. 2

As previously promised, here is a photo of a Canadian flag being prominently flown over T-Town. The issues included in the culture wars are not confined to just those South of the border.

This particular photo was taken looking West down 51st Street near Hudson Avenue. There are actually three Canadian flags being flown and one U.S. flag. According to flag etiquette (see item 11) it is improper to fly the flags of two or more countries together and not have the U.S. flag flown from the highest position.

"11. When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace."

At this location in mid-town Tulsa, the Canadian flag is being flown from the highest flagpole, in opposition to the rules of international usage.

With all that being said, I happened to speak briefly with the owner. He is promoting his business named CanadianExpressway. He was friendly and I asked what kind of business it was. He replied that it is a business that helps the elderly obtain medicine and drugs from Canada. We went on to briefly discuss the failed RX Depot that was shut down by the Feds a few years ago. He seemed to think that the only two mistakes made by RX Depot was the use of RX in the name and that they listed certain drugs as approved by the FDA. My quick read of the article linked above indicates there were other issues as well.

I have always thought that the Federal government was wrong and high-handed in squelching RX Depot. It was a Tulsa based company with over 80 storefronts. The idea was to provide U.S. seniors access to lower cost Canadian drugs for a fee. Everybody wins, right?

The FDA claimed RX let me get this straight..."FDA believes that operations such as yours expose the public to significant potential health risks,", say whaaaat????????!!!!

This is the same FDA funded primarily by the drug companies they are supposed to regulate (how's that for a conflict of interest?), the same FDA that has approved numerous drugs (Vioxx, Bextra and many others) now pulled as health hazards and associated class-action lawsuits.

And they think RX Depot posed a threat?

Will Arnold Ziffel be Banned Next?

In an extreme case of political correctness gone amuck, it seems that several U.K banks have taken measures to ban "piggy banks".

Pork is considered as an unclean or impure animal by both muslims and jews. However, I don't seem to recall this ever being made an issue by the jewish people. Why is it that now, in Britain, some people think this is so highly offensive that they take the drastic steps to ban something as innocent as a "piggy bank".

Where is this all going? I wonder if the only "son" of the Ziffel's who brought laughter to millions in the 60's as part of Green Acres will be next?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Cultural Warfare in T-Town

I have been eager to blog, but too busy to do so lately. I've been doing some work in an area of town that I don't frequent too often. During my lunch break, I saw something that made me resentful. The next day I returned and took some pictures.

This was taken this week on the Mother Road (Route 66), specifically at the NW corner of 11th Street and Oswego. Not being too familiar with this part of town, I made a wrong turn at this intersection and couldn't help but notice the Mexican flags. Although there is only one in the second picture. The first picture shows you many more. They flew next to Old Glory, of the same size and I thought, importance. The owner is certainly pandering to the hispanic community of Tulsa.

Fortunately, the owner saw fit to fly the U.S. flag on a higher flagpole in one position of prominence. They are all being flown according to proper flag etiquette (see #11).

I reflected for a long time on why I was resentful. I think its because flags are such powerful symbols. To have another nations flag flown so promenently in Tulsa is just a slap in our face. Especially in light of the immense problems our country is having with illegal immigration.

Does anyone know that we fought a war with Mexico in the mid-1800's that finished the rough outline of what we know today as the U.S?

Greedy Tulsa businessmen have taken the almight dollar above the best interests of their country and countrymen.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The November School Bond Election

Next month on November 8, 2005, the citizens of Tulsa will be asked to vote on the fourth installment of a 20 year comprehensive bond program to improve facilties, textbooks, buses, etc. The previous votes came in 1996, 1999 and 2001. You can read all about it here at the TPS website.

Although I detest taxes and I especially think that property taxes are an inequitable way to pay for public school buildings, I will throw my support to passing this bond proposal. Why?

It especially does address the facilities needs in a comprehensive and fair way. It is good to drive by and see the improvements to the buildings that are substantial. It is depressing to drive by old and delapidated public school buildings. The comprehensive plan seems to have something for just about everyone. I'm sure that was by design to help get the proposals passed. It takes 60% approval to pass a bond program. I'm glad it takes a super-majority like that.

I have not been able to determine exactly who owns the public school buildings. I seem to remember that the TPS Board has to approve the sale of any excess buildings. I would hope that the property and facilities are owned by the citizens of Tulsa, since we have and are paying for them. Does anyone know the answer?

My last parting comment is this: These improvements will not improve the educational output of TPS. How do I know that? Well, Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences (TSAS) does not benefit one bit from this bond proposal. It was not given a public school building to use. It does not share in the city property tax revenue that goes to the traditional public schools. It must make do with a partial income stream and use that to pay rent on an office building renovated to be used as a school. With the reduced funding and make-shift building, this school has consistently turned out some of the best students in Tulsa for the past four years. It's not about the money or the buildings.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A Look at the City of Tulsa's Economy

Mad Okie at Livin on Tulsa Time has some good information about unemployment and population growth in Tulsa and the surrounding area. He attributes the regional improvements not so much to the actions of Mayor LaFortune, but to the overall recovery of the U.S. economy.

Lets take a closer look, shall we?

He correctly points out that the unemployment numbers are metro or regional numbers (the Tulsa MSA) not only the city of Tulsa. As we all know the suburbs of T-Town have prospered while the city itself has declined. Unfortunately, the City of Tulsa is still down tens of thousands of jobs. Some have been recovered in the suburbs. Those trade off's were from high paying to much lower paying positions, for the most part.

To again show you the dismal performance of the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce efforts to attract meaningful new jobs into the area, take a look here and click on the download link for new and expanded businesses in the Tulsa MSA over the past few years. It will be worth going to see it and it's easy to pick out the Tulsa only businesses.

Here is an edited sample showing all the 2005 data:
New and Expanded Industries
Tulsa MSA, 1996-2005

New Industry:
Company-----------Location--------New Jobs
Elephant Bar Restaurant Tulsa 125
Global Data Systems Tulsa 25
Horizontal Oilfield Systems Tulsa 10
PBM Fab Mfg. school bus windows Tulsa 50
Pelco Structural Claremore 100
Skycam Mfg. aerial camera sys Broken Arrow 50

That's a measly 210 jobs created or expanded in Tulsa in 2005 so far per the Metro Chamber's numbers. The single largest increase for Tulsa in recent history was 1,300 new jobs in 2004 by DirectTV.

We all know that restaurants and satellite TV jobs are poor replacements for Williams, Citgo, etc. So, although a few jobs have been created, the trend is a replacement of good jobs for average jobs.

There is another factor at work here that is not reported in the numbers. Unemployment rates do not include those who have simply given up on finding a job. It also does not include those people unilaterally called contract laborers by their employers as a ploy by the employer to escape the payment of payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance and employee benefits.

The IRS should crack down hard on this abuse, but it has been going on for a long time. The result is when the "contract" worker is let go, he cannot file for unemployment. The unemployment rate numbers are calculated using jobless claims. I firmly believe the stated unemployment rates of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the U.S. are grossly understated.

Oh, and by the way, it appears that the population of Tulsa proper has declined every year since 2000 when it peaked at 393,049. As of June 2003 it had declined to 387,807. Over the same period, the Tulsa suburbs have flourished. Read the article here.

And you regionalists will love this quote by then Tulsa Deputy Mayor Steve Sewell:

Sewell also downplayed any concerns about growth in the suburbs.
"I think we can co-exist," Sewell said. "Anything that benefits Broken Arrow and other towns will benefit Tulsa."

Mr. Sewell, PROVE IT!

Update 10-11-05
How can I have forgotten another unreported factor regarding employment?

I'm referring to the under-employed. Those displaced people who have sought any type of job just to have some income. I know a lawyer operating a sandwich shop. I know a property manager installing sprinkler systems. I know a registered nurse who is making and selling soap. I know an engineer who works for a non-profit. The list is endless.

Sometimes the strategy is to work at some type of meaningful employment until something better or in their field comes around. Anyway, my point is that this is never reported in any published statistic.

Does anyone really believe the unemployment numbers trumpeted by our government?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

LaFortune: Tulsa's Regional Mayor?

By the time this picture was taken of a jubilant and grinning Mayor Bill LaFortune and an equally giddy County Commissioner Bob Dick, our illustrious mayor was no longer just the mayor of Tulsa. By this time, he had transformed himself into a regional mayor.

What is becoming increasingly clear to any Tulsan with eyes and ears, is his honor had made countless secretive deals with various other mayors, suburbs, contractors, etc. They were all to the detriment of Tulsa. They were all efforts to cut deals to gain regional support for the Vision 2025 tax. That ended up being a 6/10's of a cent tax increase for Tulsa County for 13 years. I would be remiss not to say the the other gentleman in the picture did his part as well. That's why these two politicoes are all smiles upon the passage of this regressive sales tax.

The deals that are slowly but surely being revealed now to a suspicious public show the extent of the skullduggery.

Now comes mayor LaFortune. He just announced his bid for reelection next year. He can only be elected by the citizens of Tulsa Oklahoma. His hometown, and mine. This time he cannot be elected by the people of Broken Arrow, Jenks, Bixby, Sand Springs, Owasso and Turley.

I am sure he will try to change his spots and appear to now support Tulsa only causes. But I don't think he will be able to shake the mantle of a regional major anytime soon.

He is certainly not a Reagan-Republican as shown by his complete support for a significant tax increase. He has a bloated city staff that has increased during his administration. Crime is up. Police force is down. Streets are the pits. The public education system is dismal. The employment picture is bleak.

I think the main reason he's running for reelection is because he needs a job. But wait a minute...he is a lawyer and we could always use a few more of those guys. :)

We desperately need a change in leadership here. Are you really better off now that you were four years ago?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Terrorist-in-training?

Although "official" sources haven't published any final reports and the basic storyline of Joel Henry Hinrichs III is that of a disgruntled and stressed out "emotionally disturbed" college student that had a chemistry experiment gone amuck.

It seems every day there is new news being reported. Since the mainstream media only chants the official party line, we must seek the facts elsewhere. Michelle Malkin, WorldNetDaily, Gateway Pundit and many other blogs are reporting the new stuff.

There are unconfirmed reports of Pakistani Islamic fundamentalist roommates and friends, the use of TATP as the explosive by Hinrichs, reports of the attempted purchase of Ammonium Nitrate, extensive jihadist materials in his apartment and computer, etc.

Without a doubt, there will be more on this story as the days go by. I hope that the public is informed by the FBI and any other official agency when the investigation is complete.

In the meantime, I smell a rat!

Monday, October 03, 2005

How Quickly We Forget

Having just watched the News on 6, I was reminded at how very quickly we all seem to forget.

Governor Henry has again surfaced. This time it is to unveil the first three designs for scratch-off lottery tickets. The newscasters kept saying the Oklahoma lottery. No, that's not right. It's the EDUCATION lottery. Don't you remember? Governor Henry himself used the term over and over to sell the unsuspecting and forgetful public to vote for it. It was touted as the economic salvation for everything wrong with public education. Why, with this new stream of revenue, we most certainly can spend our way to Education nirvana. Yeah, right! Don't believe me? Check out this post.

Come on now, fellow Tulsans. Don't let them off so easily. When you speak of the Oklahoma lottery, always refer to it as the Education lottery. That will stick in the craw of our elected officials when it comes up woefully short of revenue predictions.

And by the way, public education will continue to decline. Not that I want it to. I am a product of Tulsa's public education. They have just missed the mark, that's all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Warning! Winter Gas Bill Alert

It's time for all of us to be forewarned about this coming winter's heating bills. This is not to blame anyone, especially ONG or your local gas utility. It's just to let you know about what is now happening and how it will affect your utility bills.

We are nearing the end (end of October) of the current year injection cycle for natural gas. As a nation, during the low natural gas demand months of May through October all the excess production from producing gas wells is injected into underground storage. It is assumed that 3 to 3.2 trillion cubic feet is the needed amount in storage at the end of the cycle to get us through a typical winter. You can monitor the storage numbers here. Even with the disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it looks like we will get to at least 3 trillion. That's good news.

The bad news is that it has been injected into storage all during the injection season at $10-$13 per MMbtu, more that double the price from last year, when it was injected at $5-$6 per MMBtu. Tack on the storage charges on top of this. The result is that your local gas utility will be withdrawing this gas during the winter and charging you the cost at that time. Your gas utility bills could be at least doubled from last year's.

What can we do? Lot's of things. But you better get on them now. You can go to an average payment plan if your utility company offers it. That will smooth out the bumps temporarily. You can caulk, weatherstrip, add storm doors, storm windows,and add insulation. Consider a heat pump or some other type of secondary electric heating. The electric prices are at their lowest during the peak winter months. Consider changing out old and inefficient central heaters that can only produce 50% efficiency for a new one with 80% efficiency. Turn down the thermostat on your gas heater and wear more clothing. Turn down the thermostat on your gas water heater. These things should keep you busy.

The point is that its coming and you can do things now to soften the blow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tulsa Interfaith Alliance - True to their creed?

Tulsa recently had a forum to discuss the role of religion in public schools. You can see a brief article from the KOTV website here.

The event was hosted by the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance. Here is an excerpt from their purpose statement, "Tulsa Interfaith Alliance is an organization of individuals. It is not actively or passively connected to any specific political, religious, or denominational group.
It refuses to accept financial support from any political action groups, nor will it act as a Political Action Committee to promote the exclusive political agenda of any group." This looks like they say they take great pains to eschew the political arena. The funny thing is, can there be any more political entity that the public schools? It is raw politics at the local level.

Reading that statement again makes me think of what someone else has said, "those who stand for nothing, will fall for anything". Or maybe we could paraphrase and say that an organization that believes in nothing will espouse anything. It may all sound good, but you peel the onion back a little and see that it a front for the banners of diversity and multiculturalism.

I wonder if the U.S. culture needs fixing so much, why did all these people from foreign lands come here in the first place? Why not choose to blend into our melting pot culture to enrich and enhance it? See this for my thoughts exactly.

This forum will do nothing to improve the education of students in Tulsa. While it did promote communication (a good thing), the comments from some on the KOTV article show that seemingly prominent citizens know nothing about our heritage, our culture, our history, and so, sadly, we may be doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past.

Education is taught with a world view. Whose world view will prevail?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The TPS School Board

This is a picture of Matt Livingood, the current President of the Tulsa Public School Board.

I found this link that gives a very good overview of the Board. It includes elections, organization, roles and responsibilities, current members, etc.

Having been the member of a Board myself, I really do respect each of these Tulsa citizens for their involvement and committment to public education. It appears that several of the current Board were elected just this year. Let's hope they bring a fresh and innovative perspective to the direction of TPS, the state's largest school district.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tulsa Is Well Represented

I want to add my congratulations to each of the 2005 Oklahoma Academic All-Staters. You can check out the list of 100 here. You must be nominated to even be considered for one of these awards. It is rigorous to say the least.

The Tulsa area is well represented with 1 from Bixby, 2 from BTW, 1 from Memorial, 6 from Jenks, 2 from Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, 1 from Union, 1 from Broken Arrow and 1 from Owasso. If I left someone in the area out, I apologize.

I was a little surprised that there was not a representative from Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences. TSAS scored above every one of the schools mentioned above on ACT scores, except OSSM. They certainly had students that were qualified. Maybe the judges didn't think a charter school is a public school.

Check out the Oklahoma Charter School Act. It clearly states that charter schools are public schools. "B. For purposes of the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act, "charter school" means a public school established by contract with a board of education of a school district or an area vocational-technical school district pursuant to the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act to provide learning that will improve student achievement and as defined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. 8065"

Maybe next year?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Once a Stately Tree, Now a Mere Stump Posted by Picasa

These are examples of the mature trees that we have loved so much over the years Posted by Picasa

The Bear was made from a tree the same size as the one left standing Posted by Picasa

Another Neighborhood Tree Sculpure Posted by Picasa

A Well Done Wood Sculpture-A Sad End to a Mature Tree Posted by Picasa

The Ultimate Effect of AEP/PSO Tree Trimming Posted by Picasa

The Voluntary De-forestation of T-Town

I was happy to hear that AEP/PSO listened to the concerns of Tulsa homeowners and have modified their tree trimming practices and those of their contractors.

Maybe just coincidently, I have noticed a disturbing trend in my mid-town neighborhood of voluntary de-forestation. By that I mean, homeowners are cutting down mature trees at an alarming rate.

We longed to move into our present neighborhood for years, but housing prices were too high for us then. Along came the oil bust of the mid-80's and corresponding decline in housing prices in Tulsa. Then came our chance. We loved the central Tulsa location. Convenient to just about everything, and still is! We loved the style of houses and how neatly the yards were kept. But we especially loved the canopy of mature shade trees, no doubt planted so carefully by former homeowners. You see, you plant a tree as an investment in the future. You know someday, someone or something will enjoy the shade, the beauty, the fruit, the leaves, etc. I love Joyce Kilmer's poem about trees.

I can remember driving to work in the mid-70's down 21st Street and admiring the beauty of those trees lining both sides of the street. Trees add so much to the esthetic beauty of any place.

I have included some pictures of trees that have been cut down recently. These are the ones that are just a block or two away from my home and on my walking trail. They are being cut down at an alarming rate. All of these in the last year. Some in the last few weeks.

The last picture is a tree that I had to have cut down. It was severely trimmed by PSO a few years back. This set the tree up for borers and it slowly died. I hired a contractor to cut it down as it was between two houses and close to the power lines. PSO would not cut it down.

All the rest of the pictures were of trees not previously trimmed or in power line easements. Our neighborhood is starting to turn over with lots of new people. I guess they don't love the mature trees as I do. At least two of them turned the tree into a form of art.....

Does anyone else know of this voluntary de-forestation going on in Tulsa?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Price Gouging in T-Town

To my knowledge, gas prices didn't hit the price in this picture (from San Diego, California, by the way), but they did get to $3.19 in the recent panic run-up. Quiktrip, seemingly is the local gasoline price setter. Make no mistake, I think Quiktrip is a great company and am glad it is here in Tulsa.

Prices have retreated somewhat, so our fears have temporarily waned. But the genie is out of the bottle and Katrina exposed our soft underbelly. The exposure has spawned a number of manifestations, one being outright price gouging. The national news reported that nationwide the average price of gas post-Katrina was $2.89. Why with refineries in West Tulsa, did the price here spike to $.30 above the national average? I can think of two main reasons.

One way is because of EPA ozone regulations, and Tulsa's propensity to exceed the EPA limits. Our city government in the past agreed to use a blended form of gasoline in the Tulsa area. This is a repeat of what is going on in the rest of the US. Kudo's to Engine of the Future for his insight and for this map that shows the areas effected. The EPA rules that govern this created shortage of blended gasoline have been suspended nationwide until September 15, 2005. That's far too short a time to do much good. I say suspend those rules until we have built an additional 10 refineries here in the USA. One result of the blended gas scenario has been artificial market pockets around the country with associated shortages and higher overall prices.

Another way is simply price gouging. This means that people make the conscious choice to raise prices to take advantage of a situation. And the price gouging is certainly not limited to gasoline. One local TV station reported the day after Katrina struck that in Tulsa Oklahoma the price of plywood went from $2.00 per sheet to $3.00 per sheet IN ONE DAY! Mind you, not one piece of plywood could have even been shipped to the affected area. In fact, it took the military several more days before they could get their specialized equipment into the area. No, this was pure and simply price gouging and those responsible should be punished, per the laws of our land. I think they should be made a public spectacle as well, but that's another story.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Let Tulsa Offer Hope

Just some quick thoughts about what we as Tulsans can do to help to those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

With the net loss of at least 15,000 jobs during the reign of Mayor LaFortune, its obvious that Tulsa has spare room. Let our Chamber of Commerce, City Leaders, County Officials, and our good citizenry get together and offer hope to at least some.

We have ample and readily available space for business, housing, transportation, you name it. We share the love of Jazz music with New Orleans and we too love great food and cajun music.

I am reminded of the flyers that were distributed when Oklahoma was still territory (before statehood) that offered such hope to encourage people to immigrate here. Let's get the word out that Tulsa is ready to take in 15,000+ from those people displaced. We need the restaurants, the jazz music, the gaming employees, the energy business. You name it and we need it. Leave the Vodoo, the culture of dependency behind. Tulsa offers hope to those who want a fresh start, to those who want to help themselves.

With space to spare and the need for a shot in the arm, we can offer incentives to get the people here. Offer a temporary break on taxes, rent, public transportation. In the long run, we will reap a greater reward than what we give up just now.

I challenge our officials to show true leadership at this time of great need. Tulsa can help, is helping,and will continue to help!

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Fantastic Little School with a Big Budget

This photo is an aerial view of the hands down best little school in Oklahoma, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM). Its located at 1141 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

This little powerhouse with a voracious appetite just scored 31.3 out of a possible 36 on the ACT, far and away the best of any school in Oklahoma, as reported locally by KJRH here.

No doubt. They get the best and brightest. And I am glad that we have such a prestigious school for juniors and seniors available to gifted Oklahoma students.

As I am getting more cynical as I mature, and with my typical jaded eye on government spending, I decided to do a little research. Here is what I found out. According to their own website, OSSM has a student population of about 134. This breaks down into 71 juniors and 63 seniors. They have 26 full time faculty and 11 adjuncts, for a generous student-to-teacher ratio of under 4-1! You can link here for their budget. They are spending $49,047 per student. Yes, that's right, $49,047 per student, ($6,572,319 for 134 students). And does this include the cost to construct the buildings on campus? I know that they have been supported by the Schusterman foundation from Tulsa, who is very interested in common education, so my guess is that there are even more dollars spent on this school that what flows through the budget.

The admission process is very competitive, by their own admission. I'm glad. I would hate to think we were spending 10 times the amount for any other student on anyone ordinary. But in this case, the requirement in the Oklahoma Constitution to provide a "free and appropriate" public education has been met. Our hard earned tax dollars at work!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Getting Our Money's Worth?

Brandon Dutcher is the Vice President of Policy for the Oklahoma think tank, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. He frequently writes scholarly articles about public education in Oklahoma. All too often he can point out misstatements and areas that need improvement. He is a proponent of school choice as I am.

Along with Steven Anderson, he has recently published an article regarding the hidden costs of public education. Here is an excerpt from it: "Unlike private-sector businesses, the government’s school accounting systems exclude many significant costs when computing expenditures. As a result, Oklahoma government officials routinely understate the cost of public education. For example, official reports indicated the per-pupil expenditure in FY-2003 was $6,429. This study, using generally accepted accounting principles to report expenditures that would be included on a regular financial statement, finds the real cost that year was more than $11,250".

The $6,429 figure is from Governor Henry's latest executive budget for FY 2003-2004. The $11,250 figure is from the OCPA's research. You can link to the article here. I encourage you to read the article, it is well done and very informative. By the way, some of the things that are not included in the Governor's figure includes such things as; a significant discrepancy between the State number and the Federal numbers, teacher retirement payments, non-appropriated payments, building depreciation, Career Tech common education expenditures, teacher retirement debt and OSSM (Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics).

Having been intimately involved with the finances of a charter school, I can tell you that the all in cost to educate those 250 students was about $5,000 per pupil, for everything. And TSAS has consistently ranked among the top ten high schools in Oklahoma since its inception in FY 2001-2002. This shows that more money is not the answer to our public education woes.

Interestingly, at the end of the article there is an analysis of private school tuition. It has a weighted average per pupil weighted average of $4,162.40. I wonder if this number includes the cost of the buildings, I doubt it.

Any way you look at it, in the mainstream, whether the number is $11,250 or $6,429 for our traditional public schools versus $5,000 for charter public schools and $4,162.40 for private schools, IS THE OKLAHOMA TAXPAYER GETTING THEIR MONEY'S WORTH?
How much longer will we as citizens and taxpayers of Oklahoma continue to be duped by our elected officials into thinking that we need to continually pump more money into a failing system (at least here in Tulsa). Thank goodness that we still see some public schools doing their job in rural and suburban Oklahoma.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Is this man a villain?

I don't know Mr. Dan Hicks well, but he is an acquaintance. Actually, we each have sons that were in the same class and played on some of the same teams in the past number of years. Having observed him over those years, I was appalled by the personal attacks and names he was called as a result of his stand against pantheism, hinduism, etc at the Tulsa Zoo.

I know him to be a mild mannered and polite Christian man with a nice family. I respect him for standing up for all Tulsans who believe in the Creation account of Genesis found in the Holy Bible. He has never displayed any of the crusader arrogance of so many other Christians. There is no holier-than-thou attitude, no gossip, no slandering.

He is not a villain. He is a great example and a leader. Heck, I wish he would run for a local office. We sure could use more men like him! Check out this website for more information.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

ACT Scores for Tulsa Area High Schools

The latest ACT scores are just now out. The new state average ACT composite score is 20.4.

Kudo's to my favorite, and Tulsa's first charter high school, Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences. It scored the highest on the composite ACT than any other Tulsa area school. It ranks #7 in the state with a score of 23.1!

Here's a summary of the TPS schools:
#16 Booker T. Washington 22.3
#99 Memorial 20.7
#222 Edison 19.5
#322 Nathan Hale 18.5
#343 East Central 18.3
#397 Will Rogers 17.4
#424 T.S.S.T. 16.4
#433 Webster 16.0
#435 Central 15.8

Other Tulsa Area Schools:
#9 Jenks 23.0
#17 Union 22.3
#23 Broken Arrow 22.0
#44 Owasso 21.5
#62 Bixby 21.2

You can link to the information on the Oklahoma State Department of Education website here.

Its kinda funny that the State Department emphasizes how many more minorities are taking the test and gloss over the overall decline in scores. But there is a map that shows Oklahoma is still doing well as compared to all the other Southern States.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Up to Our Eyeballs in Alligators

As parents and students are preparing for the start of another school year, I am reminded of the person who is up to their eyeballs with alligators in a swamp, looking for a way to drain it. Maybe it's too late to drain the swamp...but I don't think so.

The issue that I have been blogging about the longest,(public education in Tulsa), is now front and center with the local media. Just in time for our poor parents to put their kids in school. Here is a link from KJRH about the ability to transfer, but there is much more to this story.

First of all, the 23 schools is the wrong number and only pertain to the Tulsa elementary and middle schools. The needs improvement list identifies 38 schools, including high schools that failed the API index for two or more consecutive years and is a result of the Federal Legislation called the "No Child Left Behind Act". You can learn more about the list and the law from the Oklahoma State Department of Education website. Schools that don't meet standarized criteria for two years in a row are put on this list. The result is that the local school district must offer parent the choice to transfer to any other school in the district that the parent so chooses.

The spokesperson for Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) was bragging about how last year 11% of parents eligible for the open transfer took advantage of it, and that all indications this year is that percentage would be less. I also noticed that TPS was being very creative by adding additional school days and starting school early for some of the Northside schools (attendance is one of the criteria used to determine the list). This really does not seem "fair" and creates a false sense of compliance as compared to the other schools with fewer school days.

What is not mentioned in the KJRH article, but is so germaine is the situation in the public high schools here in Tulsa. KOTV mentioned it on their newscast last evening. But I think what they said was wrong. I know that 7 of 9 TPS high schools are now officially on the list. This includes Edison. The only two not on the list are Booker T. Washington (BTW) and Memorial. Now Memorial may only be about 6 months away from being on the list as they failed it for the first time earlier this year. It takes two years of failing to make the list. What was said on KOTV was that there were no schools for parents of high schoolers to tranfer to, since all were on the list.

But Memorial is not and neither is BTW.

By the way, BTW is the best school in the district, with the highest API score. But TPS will not let you seek a transfer there. I guarantee the good ole boy network is alive and well at the education service center and the educational establishment.

They have had the bully pulpit regarding education since the beginning. And the results are disasterous and they continue to degrade. Parents, its past time to take a deep breath and dive for the drain plug to empty the swamp of failure in Tulsa's public education. Only then will we begin to see our beautiful city begin to turn around in a meaningful way.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Blue Hole

I have just experienced one of the very best and most impromptu weekends in Oklahoma in ages. It started a little bit early on Friday. My mother-in-law had been in Missouri, visiting with her mother(age 89), who is recovering from heart surgery. She was on her way back to Austin and she called us to say she would be meeting us at our lake cabin near Pryor/Adair.

First of all, this is just a one hour drive from Tulsa. And we had dinner at a smorgasbord in Locust Grove. The food there is fantastic! And the buffet is just $6.95 a person with discounts for seniors. Its down home cookin with things like great fried catfish, chicken fried steak with cream gravy, and the list goes on and on. It's always packed but they are set up to deal with the crowds.

Several people I know have been mentioning "Blue Hole" lately. Its not just a legend. I know, I've been there. The last time was in the early 70's. Well, we asked the waitress if she had heard of it. She gladly gave us directions and we left her a big tip.

We followed her cryptic directions and managed to find it. Its actually located about 7 miles east of Salina, Oklahoma. Take 412 East from Tulsa to Highway 69, go North on 69 to Chouteau and then to Pryor. At the stop light for Highway 20 in Pryor, go right (East) to Salina. In Salina, go to the 4 way stop sign and go straight for 7 miles. Blue Hole is on the right.

Blue Hole is privately owned and operated. They have carved out a large pool by diverting the Saline Creek for a section and have created an ice-cold, clear water, swimmin hole. The cost is $5 per car and $10 to camp overnight. It was fantastic! I mean it.

You never hear about this place in Tulsa. I wonder why? Let's get the word out for a day of family centered fun in Northeastern Oklahoma.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Old Tucson Studio

There goes my image! I just can't help it, I've got to post this on my blog. These are two of the "girls" who sang and danced in several live performances in the saloon. They both are very talented and I had a great time at Old Tucson Studios.

A Mexican Ephiphany-Via Tucson

This is a picture of some of the children I had the privilege to meet in the small village of La Paz in Sonora, Mexico on Monday, ministering with the Risley family.

I have not blogged in awhile. That's cause I have just returned from a fantastic 12 day trip to Tucson and Mexico. The principle reason for the trip was a mission training "boot camp". Eight of us Tulsans joined two from Florida and four from Arizona to see if we could meet the "Faith Factor" challenge of a program designed to prepare us for any mission trip to an extreme country, as in Africa. We set up our camp on beautiful Mt. Lemmon just outside of Tucson.

Each morning, we would make the one hour trek down the mountain, past the saqauro cacti forest and sweeping vistas to Tucson Bible Church. There we had the opportunity to hold the very first Vacation Bible School for them. The first full day we had gone out in the sweltering heat in teams of two to knock on doors and invite neighborhood kids to the VBS. The results: About 15 children attended and there were 4 new Christians added to the family of God! Two were hispanic-speaking girls and the other two were english-speaking. The team was able to immediately put into practice some of the things we were learning on the mountaintop.

We were given a reprieve for one day to be just a tourist. We chose to go to Old Tucson Studios which has been to scene of countless westerns; movies and TV series alike. Things like Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, and Bonanza. Movies like Rio Bravo and Rio Lobo. It was a blast!!!

After leading the Worship Service on Sunday, after church the group packed into a van and drove to Hermosillo Mexico to visit the Risley family. After going to the local children's hospital and passing out food and gospel tracts to the families with children in the hospital, we went back to the house. The men slept on the roof in our sleeping bags. The next morning we visited a community of people living in tar paper shacks and again passed out food and encouragement. It started to rain and one family insisted that our group come inside to stay dry. The light of Christ shone in their faces and their hospitalily and friendliness were overwhelming! They had very little physically, but what they had they gladly shared. They are certainly poor, but not poor in Spirit!

Then we traveled North to Rayon Mexico and ministered with another of the Risley's. Grady allowed us to accompany him to teach his bible class and also a karate class for the kids in La Paz.

This is a trip I will never forget!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Radical Idea

I can't blame certain parents and supporters that are proposing a new "lightweight" $1.3 million sports complex for Edison. They have certainly gone about this in a thoughtful way and are working within the system. For a mere $1.3 million (a starting price, I'm sure) Edison will have more school spirit, and less hassle when it comes to playing varsity athletics. Sadly, this mindset is part of the problem in Tulsa's public education. They have bought in to the notion that this stadium will somehow improve their school. IT WON'T!

You can check out their proposal here at a nicely detailed website. Here is the site where they extol the benefits of such a stadium.

Here is a radical idea or two. First, if Edison wants their own sports complex and stadium, let them use the yet-to-be-built downtown arena! Right now, I am not aware of any sports program that has committed to using that facility. These Edison folks can be the first!

But here is the most radical idea of all. Take varsity athletics out of the schools organization! This would eliminate almost every argument for their proposal.

The cost to run and maintain these programs should not come from public dollars that take away from classroom instruction. These programs should be separately organized and maintained by parent driven booster clubs. That way the bulk of the funding comes from those people most interested in the program. Such a heretical and radical idea will go nowhere, I know. But wouldn't it fundamentally shake up the system to wake them up to the notion that its academics that should be the focus in schools. With such poor academic performance, certain schools have turned lock stock and barrel to athletics and extra-curricular activities as a substitute for education.

This concept is currently at work and very successful at the charter schools in Tulsa. Do the students need sports and other extra-curricular activities? Of course! I am a strong proponent of both. How we accomplish it is flexible and as I argue, outside the budget of the public schools.

I think this is one way that TPS and Tulsa could sent a strong message to its citizens that we are willing to do whatever it takes to focus on turning the dismal academic performance of our students for the better.

How dare I propose such a step in a highschool-football-crazy state like Oklahoma! This is just the kind of outside-the-box thinking needed by our leadership to get the ship righted and back on course. Only then will we really start to see Tulsa's economy and quality of life improve.

By the way, Bates Line has an article about this Edison sports complex too. Several of my links came from his article. Thanks Michael!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Is Now the Time?

With the winds of change wisping through the air around T-Town lately, I've wondered if now is the right time for some honest, decent, fair and just citizens to put off the clothing of apathy and put on an outfit of public service.

In a real sense, the issues that confront us transcend political parties. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Reagan Republican. As Ronnie said about his switch of party affiliations (from the Democrat to Republican) that, "I didn't leave the Demoncratic Party, the Democratic party left me". I too, feel that party affiliations are no longer relevant, especially with local issues. This disenfranchisement includes President Bush and our Mayor Bill LaFortune. Both of them are RINO's. I mean, what Reagan Republican supports tax increases and expansion of government programs? They both do!

In the charter school arena, I found the only true supporters for meaningful changes to the Oklahoma Charter School Act came from Democrats. I observed that both Councilors Henderson and Turner, both Democrats supported the reform-minded Councilors Mautino and Medlock. From these examples I can assume that the issues were not about race or political affiliation. When it gets down to it, locally, we are Tulsans. We want to see positive change. We see the same names bouncing around our elections. We see interference from former elected officials who no longer live or work in Tulsa.

From this spirit of working togetherness that we have seen, now is the time to join hands, roll up our sleeves and get to work and get Tulsa working again. Don't wait on the government. But we can work through the government and seek to elect reform minded candidates. Get informed and get involved! There are many openings and elections coming in the next year. There is still enough time to get things organized. Now is the time!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

One of the Good 'Ol Boys?

This is a picture of the frontman for the recently unsuccessful recall effort for Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. He is listed as the chairman for the Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association. He singlehandedly presented the public face to the recall effort, and the others did not reveal themselves until disclosure laws forced them to by setting a date for public disclosure. Then it was revealed that this recall effort was primarily backed by business interests from outside the city of Tulsa, plus a few prominent Tulsans, all with a motivation to feather their own nests. Shame on all of you for your vain attempt to thwart the will of the people!

By the way, I am against the recall effort leveled against four other councilors and the mayor. In our republic, if you don't agree with someone, you wait until the next ELECTION and then do your best to get people in office that represent you.

By the way, I wonder if this man is still smiling? He may just have awakened the sleeping giant of previously apathetic Tulsans, now energized into action and set to sweep new reformers into office early next year. I wonder?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The not so public face of Tulsa's public education

This picture comes from this Leadership Oklahoma website. She is Margaret Erling-Frette, the not-so-public face of Tulsa's public education (at least as far as the average Tulsan is concerned). Michael Bates of Batesline has some interesting information and additional links about her here.

I met this refined lady last year in then Senator Penny Williams office while trying to get ANY legislator interested in some positive changes to the Oklahoma Charter School Act. It's just MY OPINION, but I don't think this woman likes charter schools, judging by her countenance change upon my introduction. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, we never had a conversation about it though.

She lobby's for various causes and companies including over the years, BOEING, GREAT PLAINS AIRLINES, TULSA PUBLIC SCHOOLS and TULSA TECHNOLOGY. There are many others I won't mention.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

More beauty from the backyard. Posted by Picasa

These Tiger Lilys were a gift from our neighbor Nona many years ago. They come up every year! Posted by Picasa

Taking a break from "chiggers" See the beauty in the simple things of life Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Ozzie grooms himself after a snack. What a great kitty cat. We have had him for 12 years now! Posted by Hello

Ozwaldo P. Suggins III Posted by Hello