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Author Topic: TPS Holds Breath On Big Grant  (Read 1221 times)
FOTD
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« on: July 04, 2009, 07:12:42 am »


Let's all put our vibe on this over the next several weeks and make it happen! There is nothing more important to the future of Tulsa than this initiative. Surely, our city angels must be behind the scenes putting together a presentation second to none!

"Social welfare programs may be a matter of ethics and generosity, but education and training are not. I am willing to pay for, indeed insist upon, the education of my neighbors' children, not because I am generous but because I cannot afford to live with them uneducated." Lester C. Thurow

TPS holds breath on big grant
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20090704_19_A1_Apartn630046

Tulsa Public Schools will hear in August if it is among the finalists for the five-year partnerships.

 
By ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Published: 7/4/2009  2:23 AM
Last Modified: 7/4/2009  3:22 AM

A partnership that Tulsa Public Schools is seeking with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation could be a major "transformational moment" in the future of Oklahoma's largest school district, Superintendent Keith Ballard said.

TPS is at the mid-point in an intensive process of applying for a $17 million grant that would change the way it recruits, prepares, develops, distributes and compensates its more than 3,000 teachers.


"There is a lot at stake with this," Ballard said in an exclusive interview with the Tulsa World. "I am often asked why TPS was named a finalist and I'm not going to sugarcoat this: We have significant achievement gap issues, graduation rate problems and difficulties with preparing kids for college. This school district is ripe for improvements."

The Gates Foundation, which was established by the co-founder of Microsoft and his wife, has spent about $2 billion on efforts to improve high schools and increase graduation rates.

Officials announced in April that TPS is among 10 urban school districts in the running for five, five-year grants to research ways to identify and reward effective teachers.

A decision about the final five is expected in August, although the details of the partnerships won't be firm until fall.

In the meantime, the Gates Foundation is paying a national consulting firm called the McKenzie Group to provide TPS with technical assistance in developing its application, which is due July 24.

"We've got six, full-time consultants here each week providing us with very meaningful data, research and information about best practices that is so voluminous that we can use it to apply for other grants," Ballard said. "It has caused me to say we are already a winner, no matter what happens."

The focus of TPS' application is on four issues that affect teacher quality and, as a result, student achievement:

Recruitment: How can the district attract high-quality teachers?

Assessment: What are some innovative ways to assess good teaching?

Development: How can the district better prepare teachers for an urban school setting?

Distribution: Are the best teachers working in schools with the highest levels of need?


If TPS is chosen for a partnership, teacher pay could be significantly enhanced in an effort to attract and reward the best teachers, Ballard said.

"If we pay better than any other district and teachers know that our schools are safe and they have the support they need, then teachers are going to want to come here.
Why wouldn't they?" he said.

Ballard noted that a supportive school board and open-minded officials with the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association have been critical in the application process.

"TCTA really wants improvement and what's best for kids, so the leadership is open to the kinds of things we're talking about," he said. "Gates insists on collaboration, so TCTA will have to sign off in the end."

TCTA has done that.

"We have been every bit a moving force toward change as anyone else at the table," said Linda Hendrix, Oklahoma Education Association advocate for TCTA. "All of us are looking toward the single goal of identifying effective teaching, promoting that and meeting the needs of our students."
« Last Edit: July 04, 2009, 07:14:29 am by FOTD » Logged
cannon_fodder
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2009, 07:57:05 am »

When you ask young families why they live somewhere or why they are moving somewhere, very often "great schools" is listed in their reasoning.  It's an investment in both the kids and in attracting quality citizens.  I hope TPS gets this grant and is hunting other sources of funding.

Though, I caution, money isn't the answer to educational problems.  Without parental involvement or care givers of some kind giving a damn about the education of that child, all the money in the world means very little.
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buckeye
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2009, 09:55:15 am »

Quote
Without parental involvement or care givers of some kind giving a damn about the education of that child, all the money in the world means very little.
This is the key.  Without it, throwing the 'best teachers at the worst schools' won't make a bit of difference, except that the 'best teachers' will leave the district faster.
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SXSW
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2009, 03:05:07 pm »

This is the key.  Without it, throwing the 'best teachers at the worst schools' won't make a bit of difference, except that the 'best teachers' will leave the district faster.

As the soon-to-be husband of an elem. school teacher I can attest to that.  She taught at one school with lower incomes and little parental involvement and it was a constant challenge, while at another school in the same district with the same resources it was much more beneficial for her and the kids due to the attitude of the parents.
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