And You Want a Raise?

Maybe the Tulsa School Board should have waited a week before approving a new 3-year contract for Superintendent Deborah Gist at a base salary of $241,000 plus benefits and allowances.

If they had waited, they could have seen and read the results of the state’s new student tests.  The 2017 test were aligned with more rigorous academic standards adopted for all public schools in the state.

As the Tulsa World pointed out, to raise the bar, the new Oklahoma Academic Standards for high school students now are embedded with the same benchmarks of success required on ACT and SAT college entrance exams and for elementary students and middle schoolers, benchmarks from the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP).

The Tulsa World goes on with NAEP, which tests a representative sample of fourth and eighth graders for reading and math proficiency in every state, “Has consistently shown far lower student proficiency levels for Oklahoma than state issued standardized tests.”

The Journal Record says there is an honesty gap and it has been going on for years. As far back as 11 years ago, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs noted that Oklahoma had inflated its educational progress by setting unusually low educational standards.

What does this really mean?  The World’s first sentence says it all, in every grade and subject, Tulsa Public School students faired far worse than statewide averages on Oklahoma’s new state tests.

The state’s proficiency numbers are nothing to write home about, but TPS’s are nearly half of what the state reports.

Take for instance fourth grade math – 40.5 percent of statewide students are proficient versus 18 percent for TPS.  Seventh grade English statewide is 33.7 percent proficiency versus 20 percent for TPS.  The 10th grade U.S. History statewide proficiency is 50.6 percent versus 31 percent for TPS.

The conclusion to all this failure might be you might want to move your family out of the Tulsa district to practically anywhere else.

In letters being sent to TPS parents, the district said, “The most important thing for Tulsa parents, guardians and families to know is that these state results are not an indication of our student’s capabilities.”

If they don’t reflect on capabilities, what do they reflect on?  The abilities of our teachers?  Clearly many teachers are not very good.

The idea that all teachers across the board need and deserve a pay raise is ridiculous, based on the new test scores.  We need to get over the idea that education is one for all and all for one.  In the real world, raises are given when one convinces their employer that their contribution to the work of the company is worth above and beyond the usual pay raise.  You do this by making a list of the goals you have accomplished and making a list of additional responsibilities you have added to the job.

Clearly the Tulsa School Board was hasty in giving Dr. Gist such a lucrative contract based on the district’s continued lack of progress.

The Tulsa World writes in its editorial. “ Let us state the obvious:  Gist is getting paid a lot of money.  Dr. Gist is the highest paid public-school employee in the state.  They go on to say, “Has anything she’s done merit a pay cut?”

Their opinion is she has done an excellent job.

No wonder Oklahoma ranks so low in so many areas.  We simply can’t see the obvious.  Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urges states to tell the truth.  He said, “Sometimes you have to call the baby ugly.”  We shortchange our children by allowing them to be educated in a system that’s not about them, it’s about the adults.  We simply pay way too much for inferior education and bloated state government.

What TPS has done is rendered Mayor Bynum’s Amazon headquarters plans moot.  No one will come to Tulsa to subject their children to a failed school system.