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November 17, 2013

Accomplishments, challenges discussed

NORMAN — Chamber of Commerce members who attended Monday morning’s education breakfast got a reality check on what’s happening in our public schools and technology centers and some better explanation on the A-F grading. About 60 members and guests attended the event at Moore-Norman Technology Center.

From robotics to pre-kindergarten and language immersion programs, Norman superintendent Joe Siano and MNTC Superintendent Jane Bowen presented their districts’ high points and challenges.

Norman schools, which recently were graded with a B- from the state Department of Education, have about 1,500 more students than they did three years ago. District patrons in 2009 supported the largest capital improvements bond issue ever.

State funding, however, hasn’t kept pace. The district is operating at a lower per-student funding than it did several years ago.

Dr. Siano, who — along with most other superintendents — expressed frustration at the A-F grading, said the rankings don’t live up to what was promised to parents. Schools where students are making progress don’t get to count that progress unless it meets a certain standard.

Bowen’s biggest frustration seems to be getting students and parents to consider the technology center offerings.

Oklahoma’s career tech system produces graduates who can step into the work force or move on to college. Students with both sets of skills are much more marketable, she said.

“That’s what we call a gold-collar worker. It’s someone with academic and technology skills,” she said.

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