Monday December 4, 2017

Students supported through OKCPS Compact initiatives

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber recently held a series of four Board of Advisors small group meetings focused on public education. Leaders from Oklahoma City Public Schools, United Way of Central Oklahoma, the City of Oklahoma City the Chamber and The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools shared information about district plans, challenges and opportunities that exist to improve the educational experience for our students. In addition, there was discussion about the OKCPS Compact, whose membership is composed of the same entities mentioned above.

The OKCPS Compact currently has two initiatives underway that utilize a collective impact model to pull in community support focusing on specific issues. These issues were determined through conversations and alignment with district leaders.

The most recently launched effort is focused on the mental health of our students, many of whom experience trauma on a regular basis. Trauma comes in many forms, from food insecurity to homelessness to abuse. A baseline survey is being conducted to analyze services currently in place, which will then help define gaps and develop a plan going forward.

ReadOKC is the OKCPS Compact initiative launched last spring with the mission to develop a culture of reading in our community, specifically to instill a love of reading in the elementary school students of OKCPS.

ReadOKC started with a summer reading program called, Get in the Game. Students read nearly 800,000 minutes during the summer break, but that was just the beginning. MyOn, the digital reading platform used by OKCPS’ elementary schools, held a Thankful contest during November that had tremendous results. The Winter Break Reading Challenge will be held from Dec. 14-Jan. 3 and gives students the goal of reading 240 minutes logged through MyOn or a log that goes home with them before the break.

MyOn has tracked amazing results year to date compared to last year. In fact, one million more minutes have been logged this year vs. last. It is a well-known fact that children who read do better in school. Children who develop a love of reading truly have the world opened up to them.

There are a plethora of challenges in Oklahoma City Public Schools. Inadequate funding, certified teacher shortages, kids living in poverty and with trauma are issues that are real. Despite that, OKCPS is a great investment. A recent study by the Council of Great City Schools (the national association of urban school districts) show that while per pupil funding in OKCPS is the lowest of all urban districts in the country, student outcomes actually rank in the middle.

Just think what additional per-pupil funding could do.

The Greater OKC Chamber and many leaders in the community recognize that without a solid education system, the efforts to compete for business and industry expansion and relocation will be for naught. The nearly 200 individuals who attended the Board of Advisors meetings chose to engage and learn.

Our schools can’t do it alone and this type of engagement is exactly what is needed to make OKCPS the world class district our students deserve.

To read Mary Mélon’s original NewsOK editorial, click here.

Be a part of creating success in OKCPS by giving to the Foundation today.