Path Home Shows 2010 Show Archive February 2010 Show 1008 Strategic Innovation

Strategic Innovation

Thanks to increased funding from the federal government, the impact of Oklahoma's budget cuts on education may be lessened in some of the state's most innovative classrooms.
Strategic Innovation

Kathy Taylor, Chief Advisor

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Race to the Top (RTTT)

Show Dates

Show 1008: Strategic Innovation

Air date: February 21, 2010



Rob:  Well, state budget cuts this year could be hard on public education.  But thanks to increased funding from the federal government, the impact may be lessened in some of the state’s most innovative classrooms.  As our Courtenay DeHoff reports, education leaders are working together to attract federal dollars that, in turn, will give Oklahoma students their best shot at success.

Courtenay DeHoff:  Oklahoma schools are racing towards the top, towards four billion dollars in federal funding that could transform education in the state.  Educators from across Oklahoma gathered at the capitol to learn more.  Kathy Taylor is Chief Advisor to the Governor and says this funding will be crucial to many school districts.

Kathy Taylor:  Well, it’s about “Race to the Top” and Governor Henry’s priority during his terms in office have been to prioritize education.  He knows that it’s the game changer, the building block for our state’s economy and “Race to the Top” is a four and a half billion dollar competitive grant application.  Oklahoma could get as much as a hundred and seventy-five million, half of which would go to participating local school districts to help build great teachers and leaders, turn around struggling schools, make sure they’ve got the professional development they need to teach in the classroom, make sure they’ve got the data they need to assess their students for instruction.  So, a lot of great goals that Oklahoma has been working on and this grant is really intended to find the boldest of those goals and fund them, bring them to scale, and make differences in the high school graduation rate and the post-secondary success rate of our citizens.

Courtenay:  Oklahoma Education Association Director, Lela Odom, says this grant provides an opportunity; an opportunity for schools that have been asked to do more with less.

Lela Odom:  In 2002 and 2003 during the economic downturn, we, we lost over 2000 teachers in our state.  We had teacher’s that didn’t have janitors that were taking out the trash, feeding and washing the dishes in the lunch room, they were doing all the custodial duties in their classes.  And, we lost over 2000, which means the class sizes get larger and larger and as you do that you know that affects student learning.

Courtenay:  Odom says funding to education impacts not just those inside the classroom, but our entire economy.

Lela:  It’s the most important thing.  It is critical.  It is critical because of the society we live in, I mean, even if you don’t have kids in school, you live in communities that you want to be, all of its citizens to be productive and effective, and low crime rate, and good jobs, and good, good economy, and the education system and how good it is drives that economy.

Courtenay:  Education reform that could transform our schools for decades to come.