School board election Tuesday


In the midst of the municipal races, don't forget about Tuesday's school board election. There are several races in Tulsa County, including one in the Tulsa district between a 12-year incumbent, Cathy Newsome, and two challengers, Betty Morrow and Claudia Brown King, who like Newsome are former teachers. King has taught at both private and public schools.

Newsome has been endorsed by the Whirled for another four year term. She's been in long enough anyway, but the reason for the Whirled's endorsement made it clear that we don't need her back on the board:

Newsome is not only a lifetime educator, she is one of the reasons that the current school board is a cooperative one that avoids useless wrangling in favor of thoughtful action.

This is the same sort of language the Whirled uses to praise their chosen puppets on the City Council. Translated from Whirled-speak into real English: "Newsome doesn't demand accountability from the administration and blithely goes along with the latest educratic fads. She doesn't represent the interests of taxpayers and parents. God forbid students should get a real education -- they might see right through the malarkey we publish and our circulation numbers will drop even faster."

Here's a quote from Newsome from
Wednesday's candidate forum that supports the point:

"Just because a person has been in office a long time doesn't mean they're ineffective. Just because board members aren't lashing out at each other and are supportive of the superintendent's initiatives does not mean they're sitting there asleep at the wheel," she said.

Well, yes, ma'am, it does. If you sat there and supported the idiotic Tulsa Model for School Improvement, which features French classes in which French is not taught, you were asleep at the wheel, and you are more committed to promoting the latest theoretical fads rather than time-tested approaches to imparting knowledge to children.

According to the article, Newsome took a shot at her opponents for sending their kids to private school. Claudia King explained that her children's father (and her ex-husband) Charlie Brown was the athletic director at Holland Hall (as well as an excellent chemistry teacher, in my opinion) -- that's why her kids went to school there. A better answer would have been, "Of course I put my kids in private school. Anyone with sense who could afford it would! Tulsa public schools stink! That's why I'm running for school board -- to make the public schools as good as the private school my children attended."

If Sunday's Whirled story is to be trusted (which is not something I take for granted) all three candidates oppose charter schools, which is a shame. Charter schools hold great promise for making traditional approaches to instruction and classroom discipline available to parents who want that kind of learning environment for their children.

The shocking thing is how few people care about this election. Tulsa is the largest district in the state, with an enrollment exceeding 40,000 pupils. We are about to elect someone to the board of an entity that spends a quarter of a billion dollars a year (general fund only -- not counting capital spending).

That's over $6,000 per child per year. (See this report for a comparison of all the school districts in Oklahoma.) Only 52% of that goes to the classroom. That is about a thousand more per pupil than all of the suburban Tulsa County districts and a lower percentage spent in the classroom than the surrounding districts.

I wish I could give you the exact boundaries of the election district that votes on Tuesday, but that information doesn't appear to be on the web. Generally, the seat represents the most of midtown Tulsa. I suggest you swing by your normal polling place on Tuesday and see if your precinct is open, just to be sure.

Who to vote for? Anyone but Newsome. If Newsome can be held below 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff the first Tuesday in April, which would allow a longer campaign and more time to get the important issues out in the open. I would probably vote for Betty Morrow just for not having spent her whole adult life as a part of the public education industry.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 23, 2004 12:59 AM.

The lonesome road to Wichita was the previous entry in this blog.

School board District 5 boundaries is the next entry in this blog.

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