Tulsa City Leaders Meet To Discuss Link Between Education, Economy

Thursday, February 26th 2015, 5:29 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The leaders of Tulsa-area schools met with the city council today in hopes of creating a stronger partnership.

They hope to find ways the city can improve schools, and in turn, better schools can help the economy.

What if the best way to improve the economy was to improve the schools?

There's a lot of research that says that is the best approach, and it gets city government types interested in hearing more.

This meeting was not unprecedented -- school and city leaders have met before -- but several city councilors feel it's time for them to work together more.

"I think we are at a point we've never seen in the history of Tulsa where we have a leadership on the council and the mayors' office that understands that education is not a separate thing,” councilor Anna America said.

Part of that is having a city councilor who used to be on the school board and a former mayor running an education group to help schools build on best practices.

The message they're giving now is that Tulsa needs to do more to have children ready to learn at the earliest possible age.

“We know that early childhood intervention makes a long-term difference in a kids life and their ability to graduate high school college and career ready,” former mayor Kathy Taylor of Impact Tulsa said. “We have the data, we need to align resources around it.”

Taylor's group is trying to bridge a gap in information about how schools can best spend their money - and what city government leaders can do to support the schools.

She believes if a city wants better jobs, the place to invest is in the classroom.

"And we are losing kids all along the way,” Taylor said. “They can get a great start, but we've got to plug those leaks all the way through until they enter the workforce and start contributing to our economy.”

The partnership has the support of incoming Tulsa superintendent Deborah Gist, who said she wants to build on the relationship between the current superintendent and mayor.

No one is sure what will come out of the talks, but this group is hopeful more children will be ready for school, graduate and go on to college.

One big piece of information they're just now getting a handle on is a child's readiness for kindergarten.

And the data on that is broken down by neighborhood where you see the issues across the city. Click here to see the data.

The groups plan to meet again and go over how to get more children into college and whether there's a way the city can do more on that front.