Strengthening Education in Oklahoma

Azino

Phone

918-861-6337

Mail

7331 S Olympia Ave, #306

Azino
02 2024

2024 TPS Candidate Surveys

In 2024, NorthStar Project, a recently-formed think tank with a primary focus to improve the quality of K-12
education in Oklahoma, composed and issued the first academically-focused school board candidate survey.

This survey is crucial for helping voters understand the candidates’ positions on the most critical points Tulsa Public Schools must address to improve learning.

In January, NorthStar Project sent a questionnaire of 30 critical questions in 10 categories for improving the outcomes of Tulsa Public Schools for students and families.

Below is a copy of the letter each candidate received, followed by the answers of those candidates who responded. The answers are published here for you without abridgment or editing.

Candidate names are ordered alphabetically within their board election district.

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mseidler@legaloverwatch.org

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Background and Experience:
a. Can you describe your background and how it has prepared you to serve on the school board?

My most relevant recent experience is as Chief Counsel of Legal Overwatch for Parents’ School Rights. I founded Legal Overwatch as a nonprofit law firm almost 2 years ago to offer my legal services to parents whose parents rights were be violated by overreaching school boards. I help parents, students, teachers, and school board members on a pro bono basis (at no cost; except court fees) with legal issues involving school administrators’ interference with parents’ rights. It has frankly been a shocking experience. I have sued several school boards and sent numerous cease and desist letters. I thus have had deeply personal experiences with how school boards can have a harmful effect on the people it is supposed to serve. My main observation is the failure of administrators in following the law and good governance processes. TPS Governance has no check and balances to make school board leaders accountable to taxpayers, as well as parents. In light of the dreadful statistics detailed in your letter, when I had the opportunity to serve on the Tulsa school board in District 6, I felt a calling to use the same legal skills to call out current administration as to how they are governing our schools and affecting our families more than any other government agency.

b. Do you have any previous experience in education, governance, or community service? Please elaborate.

I have a strong academic record. I know a good education from how mine has served me. I have a law degree from the University of Tulsa, a master’s in English literature from Pittsburg State University, and a master’s in environmental management from Yale University. Additionally, I completed the course work for my PhD in English literature at the University of Tulsa.

I have taught in several different capacities. I taught composition at the college level at several regional colleges, business law, and English for non-English speakers at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. I at one time had a teaching certificate for secondary education in English.

Further, I believe I am the only candidate who has worked at Fortune 500, publicly traded companies which are subject to a high standard of accountability from senior management down the corporate ladder. My business experience found it abhorrent that TPS could lose over $600,000 of taxpayer money by a well-known embezzlement scheme of setting up fake accounts to be paid. Yet, only the embezzler is being held accountable. Corporate law was amended after the notorious Enron bankruptcy to be sure that CEOs are responsible for the failure of oversight that causes financial injury to the public. TPS needs better checks and balances and oversight.

Finally, as I mentioned above, I founded Legal Overwatch to help people having problems with school administration across Oklahoma. I have specific insight into the difference and commonality across districts in how they approach parents’ leading issues. These credentials required extensive contact with various communities that have given a vital insight into the challenges of parents wanting a good education for their children.

Educational Philosophy:
a. What is your educational philosophy, and how will it guide your decisions as a board member?

How I perceive education is formed by my childhood relationship with my immigrant father, who came to the U.S. from Central America with the goal of an American education. He saw the manifestation of the “American Dream” is the American education. However, our public education is not only failing the American Dream of immigrant parents and their children, but also American native born citizens when students are being graduated without being able to read even after being schooled for 13 years. 80 % of TPS graduates cannot read at grade proficiency. In fact, the same percentage of 4th graders also cannot read at grade proficiency but they are merely passed on to the next grade where they fall further and further behind. Instead of being the ladder to upward mobility, schools are being studied as a pipeline to prison. If not prison, then students find themselves homeless, in welfare lines, in lines for housing assistance, food stamps, etc. The cost of failing to provide an education to public schools students in Oklahoma averages $16,000 per year for 13 years per student. Now add the cost of social services once they are adults. We cannot afford this financial catastrophe. Oklahoma children cannot afford this loss of the American Dream. The U.S., Oklahoma and Tulsa Public Schools has been promising to improve K-12 and yet, we continue to fall behind other OECD countries and Oklahoma continues to be at the bottom of state rankings and TPS is one of the worst performing school in Oklahoma.

I advocate the following principles:

  1. The public school mission to pursue academic learning comes first and foremost.
  2. School board governance must be committed to honesty and transparency. The rules and policies of TPS District must be aligned with Oklahoma Accreditation Standard, especially Standard II.
  3. Accountability must be linked to academic standards, including the superintendent. In business, accountability is linked to earnings – simple and easy to measure – not to
    how well my employees like me; how well my presentation to regulators went, etc. In a school setting, academic proficiencies must improve.
  4. Proposed budget items will be subject to a cost/benefit analysis performed within the context of the first principle. No budget will include expenditures that take money away from students’ learning and teaching. Public Schools will not outsource education responsibilities to outside vendors unless the cost/benefit analysis demonstrates the contracted services will benefit students over what local teachers and principals can provide. This is local control.
  5. Bullying in the schools is not schoolyard bullying anymore, but consists of crimes of battery, assault and sexual assault and battery. TPS will adopt a “broken window” approach to crime in our public schools. It will not investigate or pursue school discipline for these crimes, especially sexual crimes, but report these and limit jurisdiction over these crimes to Tulsa Police Department and the Judicial System.
  6. The public school must be apolitical. Religion is a good model. Just like many believe in separation of church and state; there should be a separation of politics and state. Under this principle, the school is not responsible for fixing any other social ills. Many of those programs have political strings attached. Families may need a social safety net, but those services should not use the school as a conduit but deal directly with the recipients who are in need. That is what a community is about. The school is just one member.

b. How do you define a successful school, and what metrics do you use to measure success?

You are worried about outcomes; I trust right processes will drive good outcomes.

c. What is your opinion on standardized testing and how it should be used in evaluating student performance?

[No answer given]

Priorities and Goals:
a. What are your top three priorities for the school district, and how do you plan to address them?

See principles above.

b. How will you ensure that the district is catering to the needs of all students, including those with special needs, gifted students, and English language learners?

See principles – academic principle; budget principle; accountability principle.

Community Involvement:
a. How will you engage parents and the community in the decision-making process?

Revise Board Policies to align with Parents’ Bill of Rights and Accreditation Standard 2

1st: Parents’ Bill of Rights in Title 25. Definitions and General Provisions
§25-2002. Parental rights.
A. All parental rights are reserved to a parent of a minor child without obstruction or interference from this state, any political subdivision of this state, any other governmental entity or any other institution, including, but not limited to, the following rights:

  1. The right to direct the education of the minor child;
  2. All rights of parents identified in Title 70 of the Oklahoma Statutes, including the right to access and review all school records relating to the minor child;
  3. The right to direct the upbringing of the minor child;
  4. The right to direct the moral or religious training of the minor child.

2nd: Accreditation Standard II; OAC 1 210:35-3-21 .
“Statement of the standard: The school establishes relationships with its parents and community that result in a feeling of mutual trust. These relationships are based on open, two-way communication. Parents and the community are involved in developing and monitoring the school’s expected outcomes. The school displays a willingness to respond to the parents and the community, and the community supports the school and its program.”

This starts with the removal of President Woolley who decides what goes on the Agenda. After her removal, the new school board can pursue major reform of Board Policy to remove centralization of power in one person’s hands; add checks and balances to ensure the value of every board member; and add transparency and honesty into the open meeting process.

b. Can you provide examples of how you have successfully worked with diverse community groups in the past?

I don’t believe in working with community groups whose values do not align with the values I’ve been dedicating my retirement to defend. Again Principle 3.

Future Vision:
a. What is your long-term vision for the school district, and how will you involve stakeholders in shaping this vision?

School governance that is honest with parents; transparency in decision-making; accountability when school fails its mission.

b. What role do parental choice options play in your thinking about change?

Oklahoma schools choice fails students, especially students who have special disability or being bullied. This question requires deeper discussion than time allows for answering this question.

c. How will you measure the success of your initiatives and the overall progress of the district?

Not my initiatives – metrics adopted with every initiative within cost-benefit analysis of initiative.

penafortps@gmail.com

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Background and Experience:
a. Can you describe your background and how it has prepared you to serve on the school board?

I retired in July after 36 years working in TPS. During that time I was a classroom teacher, an academic coordinator, a school design specialist and an administrator which allowed me to work with many stakeholders and to learn the inner needs of Tulsa’s large school system. I hold a Master Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master of Human Relations Degree.

b. Do you have any previous experience in education, governance, or community service? Please elaborate.

This is my sixth year teaching English classes to Immigrants and Refugees at the YWCA.

At Gilcrease Museum, I am a member of the Gillies (museum volunteer) and a museum docent.

I have also served on the city’s Hispanic Affairs Commission.

Educational Philosophy:
a. What is your educational philosophy, and how will it guide your decisions as a board member?

My philosophy is that “All Children Can Learn” and deserve the opportunity to receive a high quality education in a safe environment. Schools are the key to a successful city and to a child’s future.

b. How do you define a successful school, and what metrics do you use to measure success?

A successful school is a school that has engaged parents, appreciates teachers and staff, partners with the community, does not have chronic absenteeism and children are on grade level and have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities.

Metrics to measure success would include:

  • Parent attendance numbers at literacy/numeracy nights, PTA, grade conferences and logged volunteer hours.
  • Teacher/staff attendance, retention of teachers/staff, and monthly teacher recognition of a job well done.
  • Involvement with Partners in Education program, communication with community stakeholders through visits and responses to social media and logged volunteer hours.
  • Chronic absenteeism is lowered by logged communications with parents through the parent facilitator, teachers, counselors and school social worker along with the school’s chronic absenteeism committee.
  • Children will be measured on benchmark tests (MAP, Imagine Learning), state tests, and attendance.

c. What is your opinion on standardized testing and how it should be used in evaluating student performance?

Standardized testing is one data point to view a child’s current performance. Other test data such as MAP pinpoints areas of a child’s strengths and learning opportunities. This data helps the teacher provide specific interventions for each child.

Priorities and Goals:
a. What are your top three priorities for the school district, and how do you plan to address them?

1) Providing transparency in the status of the district’s budgeting and expenditures and by reporting the state auditor’s findings.
2) Recognizing teachers and staff by proposing increased funding and incentives.
3) Prioritizing safety on campuses and in the classroom which includes following the recommendations of TPS police chief to hire more officers. Provide professional development on all campuses for reporting bullying and updated on site IOC drill/plan.

b. How will you ensure that the district is catering to the needs of all students, including those with special needs, gifted students, and English language learners?

Provide monthly opportunities for parents to express their concerns in person. Create listening sessions for specific groups such as Gifted, ELL, or Special needs where district experts attend, interact, celebrate and problem solve.

Community Involvement:
a. How will you engage parents and the community in the decision-making process?

Advertise the committees/programs on each campus where parents have a voice such as the safety committee, Title 1 meetings, PTSA, chronic absentee committee, and site plans.

b. Can you provide examples of how you have successfully worked with diverse community groups in the past?

  • Participated in the creation of a dual language program at my site to strengthen both English and Spanish language learning in response to parent requests.
  • Served on the district’s Gifted and Talented committee where we established rules and procedures to qualify for the program.
  • Worked closely with 9 of the agencies that participate in the Any Given Child Program to create programming for all TPS K-7 grade students.
  • Built after school programming and Summer school programming at my site which included Ballet folklorico, STEM, theatre, art, soccer.
  • Served as Academic Coordinator for World Languages and Culture.

Future Vision:
a. What is your long-term vision for the school district, and how will you involve stakeholders in shaping this vision?

Tulsa Public Schools is a key to the future of Tulsa. The citizens of Tulsa must understand that everyone and every business can add to TPS’s success. TPS can improve student test scores, attendance rates and recruit/retain certified teachers when we partner with stakeholders to volunteer, provide expertise, and assist with resources.

b. What role do parental choice options play in your thinking about change?

Parent choice is critical for schools to succeed. Choice within Tulsa’s schools will build interest in curriculum and special offerings at each site.

c. How will you measure the success of your initiatives and the overall progress of the district?

Enrollment, community feedback, participation surveys, attendance are a few of the ways to determine success of an initiative.

DISCRETIONARY QUESTIONS

6. Budget and Resources:

a. How do you propose to manage the district’s budget during times of financial constraint?

We must fund the basic educational needs first such as reading and math. Also thinking outside the box in how we use outside/community resources A huge savings to the district would be looking within for the experts in areas of need instead of hiring consultants. The state department of education also offers resources that are rarely used.

Reorganizing and true transparency of finances when presenting to parents, stakeholders, and community.

b. What is your stance on allocating resources for extracurricular activities, arts, and sports programs?

Work closely with organizations that want to be Partners in Education with the schools to create amazing extracurricular activities – Boy Scouts, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Clark Theatre, Museums, Libraries, Foundations, Booster Clubs, Opportunity Project.

c. Please rank the following expense categories in relative order of importance in terms of allocating financial resources (listed below in alphabetical order):

  1. Teacher Payroll
  2. Curriculum, Supplies, and Materials
  3. Safety
  4. Mental Health
  5. Administrative Payroll
  6. Technology
  7. Arts
  8. Nutrition
  9. Extracurricular Activities
  10. Sports Programs

7. Safety:

a. What measures will you advocate for to ensure student and staff safety in schools?

Hiring more resource officers per feeder pattern based on data/need. Hands-on professional development practice/simulations and resources for teachers on issues that they currently face (i.e. physically disruptive/abusive student in classroom, assault by parent/student) Provide space/room in buildings for outside mental health care agencies that work with children and families on sight.

b. What is your approach to providing discipline for bad behavior?

The district has a behavior response plan that provides disciplinary actions for a variety of offenses. This is updated annually by the district.

c. How should bullying be handled?

At the first sign of any problem the issue should be handled both by the classroom teacher and counselor/dean. Parents should be contacted. The school will follow the recommendations and procedures found in the behavior response plan. This will include a report as required by law.

8. Academic Achievement:

a. What steps do you think the school district should take to improve academic achievement for all students?

Provide teachers practical applications and appropriate resources based on MAP data and other app learning programs.

b. What measures will you advocate to address chronic absenteeism at TPS?

I would advocate for each site to establish a chronic absenteeism committee that conducts interviews to determine the reason for the excessive absences. Reasons for attendance issues could include transportation, lack of clean clothing, no alarm, fear of person/situation, health issues.

Partnering with the City of Tulsa, Health organizations and parents will also support efforts to end chronic absenteeism.

c. What measures will you advocate for to better teach English to English language learners?

Provide interpreters/translators through Propio and staffing (when possible) to engage with parents.

Inform the community partners of the quickly rising numbers in ELL enrollment and seek outside resources.

Invite parents to voice ideas, concerns, and needs.

d. What tools would you give to teachers to maintain a healthy and non-disruptive learning environment, and what is the role of discipline in this setting?

Class size plays a huge role in maintaining a non-disruptive classroom. Teacher assistants in the room also encourage better behavior. Providing a behavior matrix to follow is always helpful.

e. How important is teacher certification to academic outcomes?

A piece of the certification process that is a must is a true student teacher experience. It provides the apprentice teacher the opportunity to make mistakes and corrections under the guidance of an experienced educator.

9. Curriculum and Academic Programs:
a. What is your stance on the current curriculum, and are there any changes you would advocate for?

The current curriculum for elementary students is based on the Science of Reading and the Math program is currently under adoption review. Secondary school curriculum is rigorous and sufficient to meet the graduation requirements.

b. How will you ensure that the curriculum prepares students for college, career, and civic life?

Different data points such as the MAP test, grades, course project requirements and subject tests for graduation are indicators of subject comprehension.

c. How would you balance the need of having age-appropriate materials in school classrooms and libraries versus supporting the right of students to have easy access to potentially objectionable materials?

Create a library advisory committee made up of librarians, parents and stakeholders to voice concerns, give opinions and generate guidelines.

10. Technology:
a. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using technology (i.e. computers, cell phones, and online resources like digital curriculums and even YouTube) for instruction and assessment?

Advantage of technology is that it provides a lot of resources quickly and the ability to seek 1st hand documents.

Disadvantage of technology is using online programs to replace the teacher and unless trained students might use inaccurate information.

b. What steps should the school district take to protect the privacy of student data?

The law/policies should be followed as to which information may be provided. Updated firewalls should be in place to prevent hackers from stealing information.

c. Should teachers and principals have the right to restrict access of students to their cell phones and computers during class time?

A current practice that works is to place a cell phone/locker in a determined area of the classroom or in the student’s locker.

d. What do you think of putting cameras in classrooms as a means of facilitating parental involvement, teacher accountability, and student behavior?

While I understand the intent of this question I do not believe a camera system in the classroom is appropriate. Classrooms that are meant to be video or longdistance is a different set of rules and logistics.

e. How would you recommend deploying technology over the next 4 years at TPS, and what student outcomes do you expect it to support?

Using current IT, security and curriculum experts along with parent voice should help direct the deployment of new technologies. As for student outcomes technology is useful in supporting the reading programs such as Amira, Istation and many other instructional tools.

moniz4tps@gmail.com

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Background and Experience:
a. Can you describe your background and how it has prepared you to serve on the school board?

Throughout my life, I have dedicated myself to the promotion and advancement of education. My journey in this noble endeavor began with my initial foray into public service as an appointed student member of my local board of education. Two decades ago, I relocated to Tulsa to pursue my higher education at The University of Tulsa, an endeavor that culminated in the acquisition of three academic degrees. As a firm believer in the perpetual pursuit of knowledge, I maintain that education is the paramount catalyst for unleashing our individual potential. Over the years, I have consistently championed this cause through various roles, including those of a fundraiser, a dedicated volunteer, an educator, and an astute administrator. My unwavering commitment to education remains resolute, driven by the conviction that it is the cornerstone upon which a prosperous and enlightened society is built.

b. Do you have any previous experience in education, governance, or community service? Please elaborate.

In the realm of education, I have had the privilege of fulfilling diverse roles. My journey in this field commenced as a fundraiser at The University of Tulsa, where I successfully secured gifts to support student initiatives and bolster academic resources. Progressing in my career, I eventually ascended to the position of Assistant Dean, where I undertook responsibilities encompassing the instruction of business law, professional development, and the oversight of the business career center.

Beyond the academic sphere, my commitment to the Tulsa community has been unwavering. I have dedicated my time and expertise to numerous boards and commissions, contributing to the betterment of our community. For a decade, I had the honor of representing Tulsa City Council District 4 on the Housing and Urban Development Community Development Committee, a role in which I served as the longest-tenured committee chair.

My commitment to community service extends to my involvement on the boards of several organizations. I currently hold positions on the board of directors of the Eastern Oklahoma Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, where I also serve as a Statewide Advocacy Chair. Additionally, I am actively engaged with Kendall-Whittier Inc. and The University of Tulsa Alumni Association Tulsa Chapter, where I hold the role of Vice President. In the past, I have also served on the boards of Kendall-Whittier Main Street, Tulsa Opera, LOOK Musical Theatre, and the Tulsa Historical Society. These diverse experiences have enriched my understanding of our community’s needs and aspirations, motivating me to continue contributing to its growth and prosperity.

Educational Philosophy:
a. What is your educational philosophy, and how will it guide your decisions as a board member?

I wholeheartedly embrace the philosophy that education is an enduring and lifelong journey, an integral part of our personal growth and development. It is my belief, that public education stands as a fundamental and inalienable right, a beacon of opportunity that should steadfastly offer an equitable platform wherein every individual can attain success, regardless of their diverse backgrounds.

Education, in my view, transcends the boundaries of individual pursuit; it is a communal endeavor of utmost importance. It necessitates the active engagement of parents, the open dialogues with our community leaders, transparent operational procedures, and the nurturing of a collaborative environment that welcomes all stakeholders. These principles are not just ideals; they form the very bedrock upon which our educational system should stand, and I affirm their significance in fostering a society that champions the potential and prosperity of each and every one of its members.

b. How do you define a successful school, and what metrics do you use to measure success?

Measuring success in TPS should take a multifaceted, data-driven, holistic approach that is individualized for student needs. I propose the following:

Comprehensive Academic Assessment: Utilize a range of standardized tests and classroom assessments to evaluate student proficiency in core subjects like math, science, English, and social studies. These assessments should be aligned with state and national standards but should avoid overemphasis on standardized testing to the detriment of broader educational goals.

Student Growth Metrics: Track individual student progress over time, rather than solely relying on single-point-in-time assessments. This approach recognizes that students have different starting points and learning trajectories.

Holistic Development Indicators: Include metrics that assess students’ social, emotional, and physical well-being. This could involve surveys, teacher observations, and participation in extracurricular activities, recognizing that education is not just about academic learning.

College and Career Readiness: Measure how well students are prepared for life after high school, whether that involves entering the workforce or pursuing higher education. Metrics can include graduation rates, college enrollment rates, vocational program completion, and other relevant indicators.

Equity Focus: Ensure that the measurement system is equitable and identifies disparities in educational outcomes across different student groups, including race, socioeconomic status, special education status, and English language proficiency. This focus aims to address and reduce achievement gaps.

Parent and Community Engagement: Include feedback from parents and the community as part of the success measurement. Surveys, focus groups, and community forums can provide valuable insights into the perceived quality and effectiveness of the schools.

Teacher and Staff Evaluation: Incorporate teacher and staff assessments based on a combination of student performance, professional development, and peer and administrative evaluations. Recognize and support teacher excellence while providing opportunities for professional growth.

Continuous Improvement Process: Establish a regular review cycle for the policy, involving stakeholders like educators, administrators, parents, students, and community members, to ensure the measures remain relevant, effective, and aligned with the district’s goals. This approach aims to create a well-rounded and fair system for measuring success in Tulsa Public Schools, emphasizing both academic achievement and the development of the whole student..

c. What is your opinion on standardized testing and how it should be used in evaluating student performance?

I would advocate for a more holistic approach, one taken by business, incorporating various methods such as teacher evaluations, classroom performance, and project-based learning alongside standardized tests to provide a more comprehensive view of a student’s progress.

Standardized testing should prioritize the best interests of students, educators, and communities, seeking to strike a pragmatic balance between assessment and the broader goals of education. Standardized testing can be a tool to assess how well schools are performing, ensuring taxpayer dollars are used effectively. They help provide transparency in education by making test results and data available to parents and the public so they can gauge school performance and make informed decisions. Lastly, the results help to identify areas where schools need support and providing resources and assistance to help them improve.

Nevertheless, standardized testing is only one tool and has its faults. Overemphasis on testing causes teachers to teach to a test creating undue stress on students and teacher. They also grant less autonomy to local school districts and educators in deciding the role and frequency of standardized testing, preventing communities from tailoring their education systems to their community needs. I would caution that testing doesn’t perpetuate inequalities and advocate for targeted resources to help disadvantaged student populations.

Priorities and Goals:
a. What are your top three priorities for the school district, and how do you plan to address them?

My primary objectives for Tulsa Public Schools center around tackling chronic absenteeism, enhancing academic performance, and fostering stronger community engagement. I firmly believe that my campaign’s key priorities are well-aligned with addressing these critical issues. Our approach focuses on establishing secure and inclusive educational environments, where each student receives personalized attention and collaborates closely with parents to equip them for success in the real world.

b. How will you ensure that the district is catering to the needs of all students, including those with special needs, gifted students, and English language learners?

Developing a comprehensive plan to address the diverse needs of students in Tulsa Public Schools, including special needs, gifted and talented, and English Language Learners (ELLs), is crucial for ensuring an equitable and inclusive educational system.

Here is a structured plan that takes into account these different student populations:

Special Needs Support:

  • Increase funding and resources for special education programs.
  • Collaborate with special education experts to develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students with special needs.
  • Establish support networks for parents and caregivers of special needs students. Gifted and Talented Programs:
  • Expand gifted and talented programs to identify and nurture the potential of high-achieving students.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for teachers to effectively differentiate instruction for gifted students.

English Language Learners (ELLs):

  • Hire additional ELL teachers and support staff to reduce student-teacher ratios.
  • Implement culturally responsive teaching methods to support ELLs in their language acquisition and academic progress.
  • Create after-school language support programs for ELL students.

Parent and Community Engagement:

  • Establish parent advisory councils for each student population (special needs, gifted, ELL) to facilitate communication and feedback.
  • Organize regular town hall meetings to involve parents and community members in decision-making processes.

Professional Development:

  • Offer ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers and staff to stay updated on best practices for diverse student populations.
  • Partner with TU, OU, OSU, and NSU along with education experts to provide training and resources.

Resources Allocation:

  • Ensure equitable distribution of resources, including funding, technology, and teaching materials, to schools with diverse student populations.
  • Monitor and adjust resource allocation based on student needs and outcomes.

Data Collection and Analysis:

  • Implement data-driven decision-making processes to track the progress of special needs, gifted, and ELL students.
  • Regularly analyze data to identify areas for improvement and adjust strategies accordingly.

.Accountability and Transparency:

  • Establish clear metrics and benchmarks for assessing the success of programs and initiatives aimed at addressing the needs of diverse student populations.
  • Communicate progress and outcomes transparently to the public and stakeholders.

By implementing this comprehensive plan, Tulsa Public Schools can better meet the unique needs of special needs, gifted and talented, and English Language Learners, fostering an inclusive, equitable, and supportive educational environment for all students.

Community Involvement:
a. How will you engage parents and the community in the decision-making process?

Developing an effective community engagement plan for parents of Tulsa Public Schools District 2, is essential for fostering a supportive and inclusive educational environment.

My plan includes:

Parent Education Programs:

  • Offer parent education programs tailored to the unique needs to the richly diverse District 2 population.
  • Topics may include navigating the education system, college and career readiness, and accessing social services.

Online Resources:

  • Create a dedicated section on the school district’s website with resources, information, and updates for parents.
  • Include video tutorials in multiple languages for navigating school-related processes.

Regular Town Hall Meetings:

  • Conduct regular town hall meetings where parents from diverse backgrounds can engage with school board members, administrators, and teachers.
  • Encourage open dialogue, address concerns, and seek input on district policies and initiatives.

Feedback Mechanism:

  • Implement an anonymous feedback mechanism for parents to express concerns or suggest improvements without fear of reprisal.
  • Use this feedback to inform decision-making processes and policy changes.

By implementing this comprehensive community engagement plan, you can strengthen the connection between the school district and the diverse parents of District 2, ensuring that their voices are heard, and their needs are addressed effectively. This will contribute to a more inclusive and equitable educational experience for all students.

b. Can you provide examples of how you have successfully worked with diverse community groups in the past?

Here are some of my exampled in working with diverse populations: In my role as a University Relations Program Manager, I actively engaged with a diverse student population, including underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students. I implemented targeted outreach strategies to attract a more diverse pool of prospective students, resulting in a 20% increase in applications from underrepresented groups.

Additionally, I collaborated with community organizations and schools to establish partnerships aimed at encouraging diversity in higher education. As a engaged community member, I have consistently supported various organizations and initiatives that focus on improving the lives of diverse populations. I have contributed financially to scholarships for Native American students pursuing higher education, helping them access educational opportunities.

In my role in Human Resources, I played a pivotal role in fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. I developed and implemented diversity and inclusion training programs for employees to raise awareness and promote inclusivity. I als Collaborated with recruiting teams to establish diversity recruitment goals, resulting in a 30% increase in the hiring of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.

As a candidate for the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education, my platform focuses on addressing the needs of a diverse student population. I have advocated for policies that support English Language Learners (ELLs) by allocating additional resources and support services. As well as promoted special education reform to ensure that students with diverse learning needs receive appropriate support and attention. These examples illustrate how I have actively worked with and supported diverse populations in various capacities, showcasing my commitment to inclusivity and equity.

Future Vision:
a. What is your long-term vision for the school district, and how will you involve stakeholders in shaping this vision?

My enduring vision for Tulsa Public Schools is that of an illustrious institution, a beacon of excellence within our community, firmly rooted as the cornerstone of family engagement. I envision parents brimming with pride in the education their children receive from TPS, actively involved in their academic journeys. In this vision of Tulsa Public Schools, students thrive in a secure and inviting educational environment, shielded from political distractions. Here, the primary focus is on tailored learning plans, crafted to equip Tulsa’s students for the real world. Our commitment lies in providing them exposure to diverse paths to success.

To achieve this vision for Tulsa Public Schools I’d take the following approach:

Strengthen Family Engagement:

  • Establish a dedicated Office of Family and Community Engagement within the school district.
  • Develop a strategic plan to involve parents in decision-making processes, ensuring their voices are heard and valued.

Enhanced Communication:

  • Implement regular and transparent communication channels, including newsletters, town hall meetings, and online platforms, to keep parents informed about school activities and their children’s progress.

Parent Education Programs:

  • Offer workshops and seminars to educate parents about the curriculum, standardized testing, and college and career readiness.
  • Foster partnerships with local universities and community organizations to provide resources for parents.

Tailored Learning Plans:

  • Create a system for individualized education plans (IEPs) for each student, in collaboration with teachers, parents, and students themselves.
  • Encourage teachers to personalize instruction to meet the unique needs and learning styles of each student.

Safe and Welcoming Environment:

  • Invest in school safety measures, including physical security enhancements and mental health support services for students.
  • Foster a welcoming and inclusive school culture through anti-bullying initiatives and diversity education.

Shield from Political Distractions:

  • Develop a code of conduct for school board members and district administrators to ensure that political disputes do not disrupt the focus on education.
  • Encourage respectful and non-partisan dialogue in all school-related matters.

Exposure to Diverse Paths to Success:

  • Expand career and technical education programs to expose students to various career paths.
  • Promote partnerships with local businesses and community organizations to provide internships, apprenticeships, and mentorship opportunities.

Curriculum Enhancement:

  • Regularly review and update the curriculum to incorporate modern teaching methods and relevant, real-world skills.
  • Collaborate with educators, industry experts, and parents to ensure the curriculum aligns with workforce demands.

Measurement and Accountability:

  • Implement a system for tracking and assessing the progress of students and the effectiveness of engagement initiatives.
  • Share results with parents and the community to maintain transparency and accountability.

Celebrate Achievements:

  • Recognize and celebrate the achievements of students, teachers, and parents through awards, ceremonies, and public acknowledgments.
  • Showcase success stories to inspire the community and encourage further engagement.

b. What role do parental choice options play in your thinking about change?

I firmly believe in the right of every parent to select the optimal educational environment for their child. Nonetheless, the responsibility for financing this choice should not fall on the public. Hence, our foremost objective should be to elevate Tulsa Public Schools to its highest potential.

c. How will you measure the success of your initiatives and the overall progress of the district?

I believe these were covered in answers 2b, 2c, and 3b.

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Background and Experience:
a. Can you describe your background and how it has prepared you to serve on the school board?

My background firmly dug into TPS/District 2. My complete educational experience while young was within District 2. I am a single mother of 5 children who have been in the TPS system and have navigated their paths successfully. I have an extensive collegiate career, along with holding
various positions within the workforce, from corporate America to intimate roles requiring deep, polished interpersonal skills essential to quality task completion. In summary, my experiences have provided many opportunities to grow in numerous facets of life.

 

b. Do you have any previous experience in education, governance, or community service? Please elaborate.

I have participated with entities like the Oklahoma Education Association, PTA, Families of Murdered Children, Women’s Empowerment, John 3:16, and the Dream Center. Additionally, I served as president of the Metropolitan Tulsa Urban League Guild for two years of my eight-year membership. This array of community experiences has shone a light on governance procedures and protocols, enabling me with a sturdy mindset to navigate critical decisions as a team.

Educational Philosophy:
a. What is your educational philosophy, and how will it guide your decisions as a board member?

Every student deserves the same academic standards, resources, and opportunities to be successful. Children have little to no control over what instructional tactics and academic environments they exist in. Despite the tedious battle with a lack of parent/guardian engagement, there needs to be a consistent, dependable force leading students to some form of success. Whether it be a four-year institution, technical school, or diving straight into the workforce – they can and should be ready. This needs to be done by eliminating distractions, focusing on the mission, and embracing change.

b. How do you define a successful school, and what metrics do you use to measure success?

A successful school is reflected through accountability. Accounting for quality standards, dependable statistics, transparency, and putting a righteous effort into fixing issues for the long term – no band-aids. Success also looks like providing proof that no students are assumed failures; they have a place in society, somewhere. We live in a big world with many options for success; there’s no excuse to leave any student behind.

c. What is your opinion on standardized testing and how it should be used in evaluating student performance?

Standardized testing should be used as a guide more so than dictation. Until there is assurance that there is such a variance between students’ home support and how a teacher delivers the curriculum to assume every student is getting the same preparation for an exam is illogical. This lack of validity with uniform academic training should lead to test results holding little weight against the students. Constant changes in curriculum do not help either. If anything, statistics could be a better measure of how thorough a teacher is delivering the material.

 

Priorities and Goals:
a. What are your top three priorities for the school district, and how do you plan to address them?

  1. Safety/Security: increasing campus police; connecting with the community; consistency, accountability, and standardization with behavioral incidents.
  2. Mental Health: increased investment in student mental health wellness; mental health services for all, not just students; possible boosted instruction of mindfulness/psychosocial items in the classroom.
  3. ‘Home’ engagement: push to understand the tactics for increased literacy (i.e., less screen time and more face-to-face reading); parental incentivizing.

b. How will you ensure that the district is catering to the needs of all students, including those with special needs, gifted students, and English language learners?

First, it takes figuring out what those needs are and getting the paperwork/testing complete, following through with the accommodations, and reporting. There needs to be some avenue for mental health and incidental help. Whatever the issue, there should be some direction of where to turn for help – no one should feel helpless. Educating others on how to approach and handle scenarios with those who need accommodations would facilitate the affected with getting streamlined assistance if required.

 

Community Involvement:
a. How will you engage parents and the community in the decision-making process?

  • Transparency: this is paramount. The community needs to know what the system is doing – because their children are involved, and it is only fair.
  • Board meetings: these gatherings should be pacified and use facts to create a genuine forum to host ‘Q and A’s,’ brainstorming, and embracing perspectives democratically.
  • Community events: events that focus on bringing the community together nurture the ‘it takes a village’ concept.

b. Can you provide examples of how you have successfully worked with diverse community groups in the past?

I have resided, attended schools, and worked in industries with incredible amounts of diversity. All leading to an array of experiences and scenarios. This includes being a member of multiple community organizations. I have attended and encouraged community events like picnics, workshops, and other and other events that inspire others to learn and gain/share perspectives.

 

Future Vision:
a. What is your long-term vision for the school district, and how will you involve stakeholders in shaping this vision?

Long-term vision includes investing in curriculum and programs that can have a lasting impact. It means not taking new reading, math, etc. curriculums every two years and trying to retain school district personnel. Showing the community the district has a consistent, dependable personality will draw in additional buy-in from stakeholders to boost the sturdy foundation as it is. Lastly, as mentioned before, accountability and transparency are vital.

b. What role do parental choice options play in your thinking about change?

Parental options always need to be heard. Whether their proposed changes, opinions, and options are embraced is less relevant than being listened to. Even if parents present alternatives or suggestions, it can
be considered and discussed, and if not accepted, it should be explained why it was not pushed through.

c. How will you measure the success of your initiatives and the overall progress of the district?

Feedback and statistics should reflect how well the district carries out policies and procedures. Again, if transparency is in effect, determining what is working should not be difficult. If parents, teachers, support staff, and stakeholders are allowed to be candid with their feedback; it should
give clarity on what needs to be applied – therefore producing quality statistics.

 

DISCRETIONARY QUESTIONS

6. Budget and Resources:

a. How do you propose to manage the district’s budget during times of financial constraint?

It starts with prioritizing values appropriately, along with sound  investment into dependable financial ventures. There may be a period of rebuilding. For example, it is much like a sports team needing to  restructure management (admin.), shape up the athletes (teachers), and tell the fans (stakeholders), “We are going through a rebirth period – and it will blossom.” As far as exact numbers are concerned, that is a deliberation among a collective that will have to be reviewed with scrutinizing intricacy.

b. What is your stance on allocating resources for extracurricular activities, arts, and sports programs?

Diversity means there needs to be a diverse set of opportunities for students. Students are far from all being the same. If programs were cut, it would lead to events like depression, truancy, and an overall decline in inspiration/motivation to check the other boxes that were once required to continue to pursue their loved programs. There needs to be buy-in, support, and, again,  transparent feedback on what is requested and why it is essential for the overall academic experience of the student.

c. Please rank the following expense categories in relative order of importance in terms of allocating financial resources (listed below in alphabetical order):

  1. Safety
  2. Mental Health
  3. Teacher Payroll
  4. Nutrition
  5. Curriculum, Supplies, and Materials
  6. Technology
  7. Extracurricular Activities
  8. Sports Programs
  9. Arts
  10. Administration Payroll

7. Safety:

a. What measures will you advocate for to ensure student and staff safety in schools?

There will be increased support for police services and personnel that support the same. This again comes down to paying attention to events, discussing mitigating measures, and then developing concrete standards that refrain from deviation. It means items like increased presence and measures at sporting events, consistent formulas with behavioral incidents, and again, ensuring feedback in a safety sense will not be taken lightly.

b. What is your approach to providing discipline for bad behavior?

Poor behavior incidents should be held to standards that do not waiver. If someone commits an offense, another person who commits the same should receive the same outcome. Accountability and consistency are crucial for ensuring school faculty and staff can rely on administrative processes to follow through. Inconsistent actions towards discipline can be highly frustrating for faculty and staff to the point of giving up and disconnecting from the students. There also needs to be restitution programs to aid in behavioral adjustments that lead to polishing the habits of offenders.

c. How should bullying be handled?

Bullying is unacceptable in any form. The main issue of bullying that stands out is reporting. Students tend to be hesitant to report bullying – generally, until it is too late. There needs to be a formulaic stance set up as a compensatory measure to ensure future bullying incidents are squashed before they start.

There should also be education on how and why people bully others. If we can dive into the psychology of the derivations, exclaim no tolerance regularly, and be consistent with all of it; it could go a long way.

 

8. Academic Achievement:

a. What steps do you think the school district should take to improve academic achievement for all students?

Aside from looking at district data, there should be a mission to determine
what works for other academic systems across Western culture. There has to be long-term success somewhere – that would be an efficient quantitative start. Additionally, there should be a revaluation of the tactics that are being used in the classroom. It sounds like micromanagement, yet it would be a short season until standardized foundations can be established.

b. What measures will you advocate to address chronic absenteeism at TPS?

This is a fundamental, prevalent issue with no clear answer as of yet. The solution could be tied into parent accountability, or it may be associated with finding new ways to incentivize students with being forced to be present, along with completing the work.

c. What measures will you advocate for to better teach English to English language learners?

Continuing to have teachers equipped with those skills is essential. Additionally, there could be a big brother/big sister system, where other ELA students have completed that language learning journey. They may inspire and have exclusive tactics that work for them. ELA approaches should also be focused on scaffolding and dissecting the curriculum so as not to overwhelm them.

d. What tools would you give to teachers to maintain a healthy and non-disruptive learning environment, and what is the role of discipline in this setting?

The greatest tool for classroom management is knowing there is a reliable, consistent discipline system outside of the classroom. If site administration can hold themselves accountable for maintaining the same standards so that one administrator is different than another or wavers from being more lax to more strict, it will trickle back into the classroom’s systems. Additionally, teachers will be encouraged to have incentives and/or explanatory measures as to why decent behavior is expected. We live in an age of “What’s in it for me?” – “Because it’s the right thing to do” does not work as well as it used to.

e. How important is teacher certification to academic outcomes?

This difficult question might be answered easier if there could be an examination of what teachers are successful at this point, and what their paths were. For example, someone straight from high school, to college might require a degree in pedagogy as there has not been much life experience yet. Then you have someone in the adult workforce for ten years who has had diverse experiences with people, and those skills might directly mesh into the classroom. At this moment, it seems as if it may be a case-by-case situation as candidates come from a variety of ages and backgrounds. There is a struggle to find quality, not even qualified, educators who can do the job well and stick around. The climate of it now is floating in a beggar cannot be a chooser space.

 

9. Curriculum and Academic Programs:
a. What is your stance on the current curriculum, and are there any changes you would advocate for?

The first step would be getting feedback from faculty on the curricula being used. There would be insight on how well it is working. Too often, administrators pick and choose curriculum with little to no regard for how the teachers feel about it. It too often operates as a capitalistic venture more so than genuinely choosing what is going to work better with the students.

b. How will you ensure that the curriculum prepares students for college, career, and civic life?

This may be a longitudinal study waiting to be completed. A good option for success clarity regarding curricula would be the people taking on the students leaving secondary school systems. People like employers and college professors could provide accurate feedback on how well past students are performing. There could also be feedback from the students as they navigate themselves through the programs.

c. How would you balance the need of having age-appropriate materials in school classrooms and libraries versus supporting the right of students to have easy access to potentially objectionable materials?

Age-appropriate materials should weigh out objectional materials. The thought is that if a is curious, swayed, or tempted to dive into controversial material, it can be done on their own time, under their own free will. The school system should not be a hotbed of taboo issues and materials. Students living in the free Western world can access an endless landscape of items outside the school. Be aware, as it does not mean condoning; it means if there is a will, there is a way.

10. Technology:
a. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using technology (i.e. computers, cell phones, and online resources like digital curriculums and even YouTube) for instruction and assessment?

An advantage is having streamlined access to information, research ease, using innovative programs/Software, and making learning more accessible and efficient. However, leaning into technology too much can create a dependency, as studies have shown there is an innate mechanism within us that subconsciously, we know we have resources available to us at all times to give us the answer. Thus eliminating abilities for information to adhere and moving on to a lack of ability to recall.

b. What steps should the school district take to protect the privacy of student data?

The district should be sure to invest in programs and software that have proven efficient in safeguarding information with little to no breaches. This may be a gross expenditure; however, it may be necessary if the district is serious about protecting our students in the digital age we live in.

c. Should teachers and principals have the right to restrict access of students to their cell phones and computers during class time?

Yes. Parents may push back with the argument of safety and needing to contact. Yet, the role of site faculty and staff is to be with the students and/or know their whereabouts at all times. At the minimum, all a student needs their technology for is if there is an emergency. However, if site personnel are doing their jobs properly, a student should be able to be contacted swiftly – either via phone call to the office, walkie-talkies, or items like emails/communication software from guardians to the teachers.

d. What do you think of putting cameras in classrooms as a means of facilitating parental involvement, teacher accountability, and student behavior?

If a teacher has nothing to hide, there should be no issues with having cameras in classrooms for emergency purposes. Again, if a teacher is confident in their academic and classroom management practices, there should be no worry. This also might hold those teachers accountable who, unfortunately, may hold personal grudges toward students and reprimand students unnecessarily.

e. How would you recommend deploying technology over the next 4 years at TPS, and what student outcomes do you expect it to support?

Over a four-year academic period, a lot can change. That is the first obstacle. I believe we need to begin with solving current technological issues like cell phones, IT abilities, cyber security, and streamlining daily platforms/systems school personnel use. I would recommend the district gets as centralized as possible with all items like attendance, grades, discipline, notifications, etc. Sort of a one-stop-shop in a sense.

 

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