Thursday, January 18, 2007

Minuteman Project Founder Visits Tulsa

Be sure and take advantage of this opportunity. Jim Gilchrist, the Minuteman Project founder, will be speaking this evening at the Brady Theater for free. The starting time is 7:00.

There is a virtual media blackout on this event.

Hopefully my fellow Tulsa Bloggers will be there and will provide sound and video.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Keating Says No

Today Frank Keating the former 2 term Republican Governor of Oklahoma said he will not seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2008.

Too bad. Many of our recent Presidents, both Republicans and Democrats have formerly been Governors of states. Presidents Bush, Clinton, Reagan and Carter all come to mind. Frank has the credentials. He is a conservative and could have led the Republican Party back toward the Reagan-Republican side of things. As a relative unknown he may have been just the type of candidate that is capable of capturing the top spot.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Some Top Legislators Weigh In on Charter Schools

For your convenience I thought it would be good to post the article brought to my attention by an anonymous commenter to my previous blog. Here it is:

House & Senate Education Leaders Disappointed by Tulsa Board Action

CONTACT: State Rep. Tad Jones
Capitol: (405) 557-7380
Claremore: (918) 342-5899

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 10, 2007) – Three of the state Legislature’s top education leaders say they are disappointed by the Tulsa Public School board’s recent decision to limit the growth of charter schools in the Tulsa area.

On Monday, by a 4-3 vote, the board passed a resolution placing a moratorium on new charter schools within the Tulsa Public School system and restricting the growth of the three charter schools already in the district.

State Rep. Tad Jones, who chairs the House Education Committee, state Rep. Jabar Shumate, another member of the committee, and state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, co-chair of the Senate Education Committee, say the board’s actions not only limit a parent’s ability to choose the best school for their child, but also limit the range of options for individuals working within the education system.

"I was very disappointed by the actions of the four school board members who voted for these restrictions," said Jones (R-Claremore). "Charter Schools are good for the administrators and teachers who want to be more innovative, and for the parents and students who want new opportunities. These four school board members have denied them those chances."

In 1999, the Legislature passed the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act, which allows charter schools in certain school districts around the state, primarily in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas.

But according to news reports, Tulsa School Board President Matt Livingood, who introduced Monday’s resolution, says the 1999 act may be unconstitutional, as it effectively places limits on specific school districts. Livingood says the Legislature has not helped to solve the issue.

Jones introduced House Bill 2578 last year to do just that. It would have allowed the Oklahoma Department of Education to sponsor charter schools, which would have adequately addressed the Tulsa School Board’s concerns.

But after the measure passed the House last year, it died in the state Senate. Jones plans to reintroduce his legislation this year.

Either way, though, Shumate (D-Tulsa) says the four school board members who voted in favor of Monday’s resolution are just searching for excuses to limit charter schools.

"We must protect charter opportunities," he said. "Students are succeeding in the charter schools and we are going to allow new sponsors who want to allow these opportunities for the students."

McIntyre (D-Tulsa), praised the members who opposed the charter school restrictions, saying, "I applaud the three school board members who voted against the resolution. They get it – it’s about allowing new opportunities for the students to succeed."

Under current state law, only individual school districts and CareerTech boards may sponsor charter schools. The Legislature will consider higher education as a sponsor, and other states have even allowed cities and counties to sponsor charter schools.

My apologies for misspelling the names of certain legislators.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Here's Your Chance to Improve Public Education


Right now you have your opportunity to strike a blow and help turn the tide toward the positive in public education.

Here are the names and emails for the board members for TPS who are considering a resolution TONIGHT to effectively put the brakes on charter schools in Tulsa.

District 1 Gary Percefull

District 2 Oma Jean Copeland

District 3 Lana Turner-Addison

District 4 Bobbie Gray

District 5 Cathy Newsome

District 6 Ruth Ann Fate

District 7 Matt Livingood

Please, please email each of them and express your opinion that they should REJECT the proposed resolution they are considering tonight.

If you don't know anything about charter schools, I understand. That's really your fault since they have been around Tulsa for 7 years now.. Essentially they are publicly funded but operate with their own board and staff. For more general information go to my link on the Oklahoma Charter School Association.

Charter schools have proved themselves to be excellent public schools that fit a certain segment of our population. They deserve to be expanded in Tulsa, not restricted or banned! I tell you all confidently that they have the potential to actually improve public education in Tulsa. But the existing public education establishment perceives charter schools as a threat and wants nothing more than to quell these upstart schools.

The meeting is at the Education Service Center, 31st and New Haven beginning 7:00 pm tonight. To speak you have to sign in early before the meeting starts. The charter school resolution looks to be at the end of the meeting.

Please email and show up to the meeting.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

TPS Board Considers Attack on Charter Schools

The relationship between charter schools and Tulsa Public Schools has been described as a "shotgun wedding". It was a bad idea to only allow the local school districts to be the sponsor of charter schools. But at least we got the charter school act passed and it has been the law in Oklahoma since 1999.

As I have pointed out before, Tulsa has been stuck on 3 charter schools since the laws enactment and OKC has at least 10. Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, Dove Science Academy and Deborah Brown Elementary are the 3 Tulsa charter schools. They are exemplary! TULSA NEEDS MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS!

The TPS Board will consider a resolution regarding charter schools this Monday evening that will make more Tulsa charter schools impossible. Here is the text of the resolution:


I move that the Board of Education adopt the following resolution as to charter
schools and the Tulsa School District:

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act (the “Act”) provides that charter schools
may only be sponsored by certain Oklahoma school districts; and

WHEREAS, the school districts which are required to consider sponsoring charter
schools are limited in number based on student population in the school district and
population of the county or adjacent county in which the school district exists (i.e., only school districts that have an average daily student membership of 5,000 students or more, and that are located in Tulsa County or Oklahoma County OR in a county that is contiguous with Tulsa or Oklahoma County can serve as a charter school sponsor); and

WHEREAS, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, there are only
20 school districts in the State of Oklahoma that meet the population limits provided for in the Act; and

WHEREAS, of these twenty school districts, five are located in counties that are not
contiguous with Tulsa or Oklahoma County and thus are not subject to the terms of the
Charter Schools Act; and

WHEREAS, the Charter Schools Act expressly exempts two school districts (the
Norman School District and the Yukon School District) from coverage of the Act even
though these two districts would otherwise be subject to the terms of the Act; and

WHEREAS, as a result, only thirteen school districts in Oklahoma are required to
consider charter school applications for sponsorship; and

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Constitution specifically prohibits the legislature from
passing "special or local" laws regulating the affairs of school districts; and

WHEREAS, due to the population, geographic and specifically-named exemptions, the
Charter Schools Act is an unconstitutional "local or special" law; and

WHEREAS, Tulsa Public Schools made an effort in 2006 to bring these concerns to the
attention of the Oklahoma Legislature with the intent of correcting the constitutional defects of the Act; and

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Legislature made no changes to the Act in 2006 relevant to
the constitutional defects of the Act.

WHEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that effective immediately and continuing until
such time as the Board of Education rescinds this resolution, the following shall govern this Board's actions towards charter schools in this District.
Pending the final resolution of the constitutionality of the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act by either legislation or litigation:

1. The Board of Education will consider charter renewals, for a period not longer
than three (3) fiscal years, for schools currently under charter with Tulsa Public
Schools pursuant to the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act; provided, however, that
any such renewed charter must contain a provision that, following any final
decision by a court of competent jurisdiction that the Charter Schools Act is
unconstitutional, the existing charter shall immediately be null and void with all
funding obligations by the District to immediately cease.

2. The Board of Education will not consider requests for renewal of existing charters
to the extent that they propose to expand operations to serve more students than
are provided for or permitted under the current charter.

3. Subject to the limitations in this resolution, future requests for renewal of an
existing charter will remain subject to review, amendment, approval or denial (as
may be appropriate to each request) as provided for under standards of Tulsa
Public Schools as they may change from time to time.

4. The Board of Education will not consider a charter school application for any
school not under charter with Tulsa Public Schools as of the date this resolution
is adopted.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the renewal of any existing charter does not
waive this School District's right to challenge the constitutionality of the Charter Schools Act at any time in the future, whether in response to litigation initiated by other parties or on its own initiative through an appropriate legal challenge authorized by the Board of Education.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that on the District’s receipt of any charter school
application, the Superintendent of Schools, or designee, shall promptly notify the
applicant, in writing, that the application has been rejected and shall provide the
applicant with a copy of this Resolution which shall serve as the reason for the rejection.

Approved this _______ day of January, 2007.

TPS and their lawyers continuously pound the drum with the mantra that the Oklahoma Charter School Act is unconstitutional. Courts have had several opportunities in the past few years to find just that, but they have side-stepped the issue, or as in the case last year, a similar case was found to be constitutional. Its high time the legislature stepped in and solved this issue.

The current act is a test case and it has been proven that charter schools can and are excellent public schools and worth of public support and expansion. Expand the charter school act to the entire state and see the entrepreneural spirit of Okies come alive!

Allow the State Department of Education, higher education institutions, and city councils to also be charter school sponsors, and have the public funding be a distinct allocation from the traditional public school by the legislature, like career tech is now.

In the meantime, make plans to go the the Education Service Center on Monday evening and sign up to speak in support of the Tulsa charter school effort. It's high time Tulsans got up and spoke out about such an important issue.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fantastic Tulsa Films

Hopefully you had the opportunity to see Jack Frank's one hour program on PBS last night at 9:00 pm. It aired statewide on public television due to sponsorship by ARVEST BANK.

I was riveted to my TV and tears welled up in my eyes several times while viewing it. My teenage son sat and watched with me. We are both native Tulsans. We both agreed we want to be downtown later this year to see the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere unearthed from its 50 year old vault.

This film is a treasure
. Jack Frank has done us all a tremendous service by compiling, editing, and narrating this film. It is a collection of old home movies and videotape spliced together in a flow of Tulsa's history. And there's more to come!

I think this should be required viewing by all Tulsa Public School children.

We have a glorious past. There are famous moviestars and politicians, downtown parades, beauty queens, long lost and forgotten airstrips, early Mohawk Park and the Tulsa Zoo, IPE and the Golden Driller, and much, much more.