The Norman Transcript

Headlines

May 3, 2013

Connect the dots to see big picture

NORMAN — Young students do connect-the-dot worksheets to learn numbers. Students draw lines from dot to dot to reveal a picture. When they mess up, there is no picture or it’s distorted.

Each year, hundreds of bills and tax-related initiatives are approved that, viewed independently, may not seem to have a significant impact. Yet by not connecting the dots of various actions, the picture of education becomes disturbingly distorted.

· Dot 1: Since 2008, Oklahoma schools have been cut more than $220 million and fixed costs for items like fuel, utilities and insurance have increased. Our economy has performed better than most states, but school funding cuts are the nation’s third highest.

· Dot 2: Enrollment has climbed by nearly 35,000 students. The percentage of students qualifying for additional services under state and federal law also has increased.

· Dot 3: Less funding and more students have led to larger class sizes. Retaining teachers for crucial shortage areas has become more difficult.

· Dot 4: State leaders have mandated several new reforms without funding. Adoption of a new state curriculum and teacher evaluation system requires schools to spend money on teacher training, textbooks, and additional computer hardware and software to be in compliance.

· Dot 5: Oklahoma has cut its taxes at state and local levels. The most recent was State Question 766, approved in November and estimated to cost schools between $70 million to $100 million next school year (on top of $220 million already lost in cuts). Moreover, leaders want to cut income taxes again.

You may think the picture of Oklahoma education is more students failing, dropping out and lower test scores. Fortunately, that isn’t the picture. More students are graduating in Oklahoma under tougher academic requirements, and college-entrance scores have been flat. Yet the true picture is also a strained education system that lacks the capacity to absorb additional financial burden and to meaningfully move forward.

Joe Siano is superintendent of Norman Public Schools.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Fracking Operation Norman library to host community dialogue about fracking

    Are Oklahoma oil companies an oligarchy that is controlling state policy? Is fracking safe? These and other topics will be the subject of an upcoming Fracking Forum from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 11 in the Norman Public Library’s Lowry Room, 225 ...

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Information scarce on ‘dark money’ group in Oklahoma superintendent campaign

    An independent expenditure group that paid for television advertisements opposing State Superintendent Janet Barresi in last month’s primary has not filed required spending reports with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission....

    July 24, 2014

  • Medical examiner says inmate died of an accidental drug overdose

    The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday said a woman found dead in the Cleveland County jail Feb. 23 died of a drug overdose....

    July 24, 2014

  • Officials say transparency lacking in Wal-Mart zoning

    Norman city staff recently admitted to withholding information from the public regarding a controversial zoning change in southeast Norman. If approved by the city council, the proposal will allow a Wal-Mart supercenter at Cedar Lane and ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Nonprofit raises $3.9M-plus for new center

    The Center for Children and Families, a United Way of Norman partner agency, announced Thursday that it exceeded its public fundraising goal of $3.5 million and raised more than $3.9 million to complete the purchase and renovation of a ...

    July 25, 2014

  • First Junior Police Academy graduates

    The room went dark and a slideshow flipped through photos of children participating in the first Junior Police Academy as kids chattered excitedly, remembering what they had done over the past two weeks. Norman Police Department hosted ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    WASHINGTON — Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Police log

    Police responded to the following incidents Wednesday: · 5:58 a.m. indecent exposure, 100 block of West Comanche Street · 6:08 a.m. burglary in progress, 100 block of West Hayes Street · 8:09 a.m. larceny report, 100 ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Angela Beth Mendinghall, 36, unauthorized use of a vehicle; driving with a canceled, suspended or revoked license · Daniel ...

    July 25, 2014