STUDENTS give public schools good grade

Sunday, June 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Tulsa's brightest high school students say their teachers deserve a raise.

A Tulsa World survey of valedictorians from nine Tulsa-area schools showed they all agree that most teachers in Oklahoma's public school systems were well qualified, but underpaid.

``I think the biggest problem is teachers don't get the respect they deserve. That's evident just looking at salaries,'' said Sapulpa valedictorian Anne Nelsen. ``I'm just amazed the teachers would have that kind of commitment even though they don't get any respect.''

Valedictorians agreed on increased funding for schools and curriculum as well.

Parents and other adults should ``be aware that you get what you pay for,'' said Jenks valedictorian Dean Spears. ``I would encourage everybody to vote for more funding for schools,'' he said.

All the valedictorians said they were happy with their public school education and only a few things needed tweaking.

The valedictorians agreed that schools should bring educational standards up and challenge all students to meet those standards, instead of bringing them down so that every student makes the mark.

``It's bringing the level down to meet the mainstream students instead of bringing it up to the students who want to do well,'' said Kristin Brisco, a valedictorian from Union High School.

Anil Taner of Booker T. Washington High said schools should allow students to take more electives but make all of those electives challenging. Then the standard is still raised, but students are being challenged with course work they want to be challenged in, Taner said.

All valedictorians agreed that schools should make sex education more serious. Teen pregnancy is an important issue and should be treated accordingly, Brisco said.

``It's not serious at all,'' she said of sex education classes. ``I don't know if the teachers are embarrassed or what, but they make it a joke and then it's a joke with everyone.''

Every student asked said that sex education needed to be increased, though some said that responsibility also belongs to parents.

Some valedictorians from Memorial and Jenks said their schools did a good job helping students get into college and secure scholarships, but other valedictorians said their schools did not have the staff to help.

At Rogers High School, valedictorian Alicia McCoy said one counselor was good at working with seniors on college applications, but the school had her so busy with other tasks she could not devote all the time needed.