Kathy Taylor Trying To Help Oklahoma Education "Race To The Top"
By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Public Schools is wrangling a shrinking a budget. The superintendent is projecting it will be even worse next year.
"I believe based on the trends that our losses could be next year, that we will have to cut out of next year's budget, as much as 15 Million dollars," TPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard said,
With districts all over Green Country struggling to pay the bills, an extra $180 million sounds pretty good.
That's why Oklahoma is vying for a piece of a multi-billion dollar federal prize.
At a time of impending budget gloom and doom, some say educators still have something to get excited about.
It's a competitive education grant program called the "Race to the Top."
President Obama dangled a $4 billion prize then set broad goals for reform and all 50 states were off to the races.
This week, 39 states and the District of Columbia joined Oklahoma in submitting applications for the race to the top grant.
The states with the best plans to revolutionize education will win a share of the money.
"This isn't an overnight fix, It's a long term systemic change to the way we manage education outcomes."
Former Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor coordinated Oklahoma's 700-page application.
She's worked for months, meeting educators and business leaders across the state to come up with a plan.
"It's really about making sure that we have great teachers and great leaders. That's the most important thing," Taylor said.
Oklahoma's plan borrows heavily from Tulsa Public Schools proposal to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that would have revolutionized how the district recruited, hired, paid, trained and fired teachers.
TPS didn't win the Gates grant but educators still believe in the plan are hoping the Race to the Top Grant will make it a reality.
The sweeping plan also calls for stepping up curriculum to better prepare students for college and work, boosting science and math education to plug teacher shortages in those areas, and a major technology upgrade to track individual, school-wide, and state-wide success.
That could bring Oklahoma education, even parenting, into the 21st Century.
"Would actually tell the parent real time online how their student was achieving, whether they'd be at grade level and what kind of lessons they would need to work on to get them to grade level by year end," Taylor said.
More than 300 school districts, including Tulsa Public Schools, signed on to the state's plan laid out in the Race to the Top application.
We'll find out if Oklahoma snagged the cash to turn the plan into action this April.