'We Don't Understand It': Superintendent Gist Responds To Criticism Against Tulsa School District

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist joined Six in the Morning on Monday to respond to criticism against the district by State Superintendent Ryan Walters and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Monday, August 14th 2023, 8:30 am

By: News On 6


Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist is responding to criticism against the district.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters released a video last week targeting Tulsa Public Schools. The video addressed failing literacy and test scores and called for a change in leadership for the district. In an interview with News On 6 Monday morning, Dr. Gist spoke about the video and why her focus is on the start of the new school year.

"It's a mystery to us why [Walters] is using this office that he has to wage this personal and political campaign against our city against our schools. It's been going on for a long time and we don't understand it and I think it's particularly troubling that it's happening just a few days before school is starting."

Tulsa Public Schools begin class on August 17.

Oklahoma State Department of Education Posts New Video Criticizing Tulsa Public Schools

The video features multiple news clips going back as far as 2009. Some include interviews with current TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist while others include former Superintendent Dr Keith Ballard. The video features statistics about Tulsa's below-average reading levels and math scores.

The video can be seen below.

Editor's Note: We have asked the Oklahoma State Department of Education to remove our newscast footage from their video. Griffin Media neither granted permission to use the video nor were we asked.

It ends with State Superintendent Ryan Walters saying he will do quote "whatever it takes to make sure every child has an opportunity to be successful" which he says is not happening right now at TPS.

Tulsa Public Schools Responds To Oklahoma State Department of Education Video

In response, Tulsa Public Schools issued a statement detailing what actions they are taking to improve scores.

"We have a plan, Pathways to Opportunity, which is grounded in the science of reading, strong literacy outcomes, and hands-on post-secondary learning opportunities for our students.
Our publicly elected local school board holds us accountable for this plan, and we are achieving and exceeding the targets that the board has set for us. Our focus on reading and math will lead to gains in Spring 2024 state test scores at Tulsa Public Schools.
We continue to work alongside the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s School Support Team to implement targeted interventions to increase student achievement. We are eager to incorporate the State Superintendent’s specific strategies once he shares his plan with us."


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