Sunday July 29, 2018

Community needs to support Oklahoma City Public Schools and new superintendent

What does it mean to support Oklahoma City Public Schools? As we move into a new era with another new superintendent at the helm, it’s an important moment to stop and think about this question.

First and foremost, the community needs to support Dr. Sean McDaniel.

As superintendent, he is the CEO of an organization with a $300 million-plus budget, with nearly 5,000 employees and 46,000 students. His qualifications and background are above reproach, and he has said yes to a job that many would run from and many have left.

The process the OKCPS Board of Education went through to hire him was sound and thorough. We need stability in this seat for the district to move forward. We need to let him be the CEO and ultimately support the tough decisions that are on the horizon.

It is important to note that in this context community refers to all residents of OKC, whether or not they have students in the district. It also means our elected school board members, who represent all of ISD 89, not just the schools in their individual ward.

Support also means treating the entire staff of Oklahoma City Public Schools with the respect they earn and for the professionals they are. Many of our teachers, principals and central office staff have higher levels of education than most people in the business community and have huge jobs with tremendous responsibility.

Treating them with dignity and respect goes a long way in developing a culture of long tenure and consistency. We need them to feel the community’s support and pride in the work they do for our kids.

Of course it must be noted that the superintendent, staff and members of the Board of Education are in their jobs because they believe in our kids.

The community must realize and accept that these are also our kids. There are many community partners who accept this responsibility and help with their time, talent and treasure. There are many avenues and ways to be involved based on the partners interest and capacity.

Our schools cannot be successful without this continued and expanded support.

Our public education system is very complex and filled with unique challenges. Our system is set up to allow for our voices to be heard and that happens through our school board members and our individual relationships with schools.

But, when a tough decision is made, it is of utmost importance that we get behind it and help make it work instead of the historical barrage of negativity that has stifled forward progress for too long.

Fearing tough decisions and choosing not to make a decision is also a decision. There is no one magic recipe or simple solution. It is going to take everyone working together through every possible avenue to build a learning city that gives every child the chance for a rich educational experience.

If we as a community come together the way we have done to support the renaissance in Oklahoma City, we will have a school district that we can be as proud of as we are the OKC Thunder. Let’s do this.

Read Mary Mélon’s original NewsOK editorial.

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