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Public Input Sought To Improve Oklahoma Education

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OKLAHOMA CITY  - Gov. Brad Henry's top education adviser is planning a series of public meetings across the state to solicit public input on ways to reform education in Oklahoma.

Former Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor says the effort is part of a plan to strengthen Oklahoma's bid for federal education grants.

Henry appointed Taylor as his Chief of Education Strategy and Innovation earlier this year.

Taylor said she hopes the public meetings will be attended by school administrators, school board members, business and community leaders, teachers, parents and students.

Taylor will hold meetings starting next week in Woodward, Altus, Ardmore, McAlester, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The Tulsa meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at Fulton Technology and Learning Academy.

"It is important that we get ideas from a broad cross-section of everyone who is on the front lines of education in Oklahoma," said Taylor, who recently left her post as mayor of Tulsa after choosing not to seek reelection.

"‘Race to the Top' is a unique opportunity to help launch Oklahoma schools to a higher level of excellence. That is why we need valuable input from all Oklahomans with an interest in improving our system of education."

The state's application must be submitted by Jan. 19, 2010.

Gov. Henry, who appointed Taylor last fall to serve as his top education advisor, said the "Race to the Top" initiative has the potential to be a significant boost to Oklahoma schools.

"Given today's economic climate, clearly no state can afford to ease up in competitions aimed at strengthening education," Gov. Henry said.

"I am pleased that Kathy Taylor is charging full-speed ahead in our efforts to win federal funds that, in turn, can have a tremendous impact on student achievement."

Each state must focus its grant proposal on four areas:

  • College/work-ready standards and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments
  • Pre-kindergarten to higher education data systems
  • Grant teachers and leaders
  • Intensive support and intervention for the lowest-performing schools

The ideas presented at the meeting will be included in Oklahoma's proposal for a federal "Race to the Top" grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The grant competition is designed to encourage innovation and reform that will spur gains in student achievement.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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