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Mazzei Minute: 12/28/23

There’s a host of anguish by both conservatives and liberals over education lately—and specifically, Tulsa Public Schools. Even if heated debate surrounds the discussion, I love that the state’s school performance is receiving attention. 


The most important investment that can be made for our kids and grandkids is the investment in a great education. In fact, the only way to achieve growth and prosperity for Oklahomans is to properly prepare the next generation for high quality jobs with education. 


The commitment of taxpayers should not be in question. Look at TPS: for the current budget year, total appropriated funds are expected to be $755,367,103. That’s approximately $25,179 per student! For that huge investment, the results are simply tragic—according to Public School Review, only 8% of TPS students are proficient in math, and only 12% are proficient in reading.


Drastic measures need to be adopted and fundamental transformation needs to be pursued.  The first place to start is the woefully inadequate strategic plan of the school district. I have read the entire document, and I am stunned that “social emotional learning” has more prominence than specific goals related to reading and math mastery.  


British Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead opined, “We think in generalities, but we live in detail.”  In the case of TPS, the details have been wrong footed.  The administrators, not the teachers, have pointed the ship of education to fads and philosophies that distract from the critical details of phonics and math skills—and the accountability that must reinforce those details.


School board elections are right around the corner. Hopefully, these very important conversations about an immediate course correction will take center stage, and the next group of TPS leaders will make 2024 the year of great changes that prepare our kids and grandkids for a bright future.


No matter where you fit on the political spectrum, hopefully we all can agree that the status quo is completely unacceptable and the new leadership of the district must dig deep to spark a major turnaround.


Three upcoming school board races merit extra attention, and I hope the entire community will actively engage in the process.  We must make the investment in our kids and grandkids pay off for their future growth and prosperity!


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