The Norman Transcript

December 8, 2013

Oklahomans have not lost faith in schools, but have lost faith in leadership

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

Phil Bacharach has been one of the writers whose stories and articles I have enjoyed reading through the years. His work has been, with few exceptions, well organized, informative and on point. His recent letter to the editor was one of those exceptions.

He took the Norman Transcript to task for a Nov. 11 editorial concerning studies by Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University that found that the Department of Education A-F grading system “seems to value affluence and devalue diversity.”

Mr. Bacharach noted that the research was conducted after similar findings were reached by two education-establishment organizations which he claimed had a vested interest in the grades schools received.

He further claimed that the A-F system is about expectation and academic rigor and was not designed to embarrass anyone. As proof, he cited the grades received by Norman Public Schools, noting that five schools received an A, ten earned a B, and not a single school in the district received an F.

I find it curious that Mr. Bacharach cited Norman as the example of the fairness of the system. It is true that Norman is a very diverse community, due primarily to the presence of the University of Oklahoma, which welcomes students from across the nation and from all over the world.

I find it more curious that he failed to mention that Norman is one of the most affluent cities in the state. He also overlooked the efforts of the university and their Norman leadership partners to attract and support hi-tech businesses and organizations, i.e., Astellas, Hitachi, National Weather Center, National Severe Storms Laboratory.

I read the report of the research team from the University of Oklahoma. I found the research parameters and data sources to be valid and the results consistent with the data collected. In addition, I know and/or know of the research faculty involved in the study.

It is highly improbable that these professionals could be swayed or influenced by the results of previous studies. What is more likely is that these professors would undertake an independent “follow up” study taking care to assure the integrity of their work.

Mr. Bacharach failed to account for the fact that Norman Public Schools enjoys the use of resources available to only a few communities in our state. NPS receives exceptional financial support from Norman taxpayers. We enjoy administrators and teachers who pass along to their students what they gain from additional education due to their proximity to the university.

We enjoy well-educated tutors and volunteers who bring targeted supplemental learning to individual and small groups of students.

There are pertinent issues that Mr. Bacharach and his employer fail to address.

First, public education has suffered from years of level funding in an inflationary economy.

Second, state officials and legislators withhold basic assistance needed by the poor to improve their level of living in the name of “reform.”

Third, Oklahoma citizens have not lost faith in their schools, but they have lost faith that the state education and political leadership that should be representing their basic educational needs.

Of course, this is my opinion, I could be wrong.



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