School board elections in February gave Oklahoma City Public Schools a new leader at the helm of the district school board.
Board Chairwoman Lynne Hardin took time to answer questions from readers of The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com.
Hardin is president and CEO of Integrated Solutions.
She graduated from Northwest Classen High School and has been an active supporter of the school.
Hardin also has been involved in a variety of community activities, including those which promote women, health and education.
Q: What do you think is the main cause for low test scores in Oklahoma City Public Schools, and is that cause being addressed?
A: We have allowed our public education system in Oklahoma City to be impotent and just “getting by” for many, many years. It is time we assume some responsibility for the education of our children and bridge the gap between public and private education. I believe apathy is our partner in crime, and we are beginning to address our crimes. We need to replicate what is working.
Q: How do you feel about allowing teachers to carry guns?
A: Violence or the threat of violence has never educated anyone about anything, except to be more violent.
Q: What are your thoughts on the A-F school evaluation system?
The system seems to be flawed. However, it has been a wake-up call to our community. It is obvious we are not being responsible with the most valuable assets we have: our children.
Q: Do you believe in school choice? Do you support the right of parents to homeschool their children?
A: I honestly vacillate on these issues. I believe we should all have choices and freedom. However, I could also make a good argument against. As most things, we need water logic, rather than rock logic. We are currently working with the city of Oklahoma City to provide transportation to our high school academy programs, giving students a choice.
Q: What are you doing to combat bullying, both in and out of school? What would you put in an anti-bullying policy to safeguard the interests of the student accused of bullying?
A: We cannot ... allow bullying to go on as a daily way of life in our society. This is not a school or classroom issue. This is a social issue that must be addressed at all levels of our society. If we do not care about ourselves, we cannot care about others. We need to change the governing dynamic from which we are operating. There is an abundance of information on this subject. We must all be involved to change this behavior.
Q: Many Oklahoma City Public Schools have discipline issues. Would you consider a districtwide peer conflict resolution program? What other strategies could be used to improve behavior?
A: Yes. (I) would be interested in exploring a districtwide program that was voluntary for both sides for certain issues. Other strategies could be used to improve behavior. Where instruction is creative, innovative and supported, students and teachers stay interested and perform well.
Q: Would you be willing to solicit ideas and thoughts from a group of retired teachers and administrators who could come together with you, and share their expertise, knowledge and thoughts about dealing positively with issues confronting the system?
Q: How do you bridge the gap between students living in relative wealth and those living in extreme poverty?
A: We have to care about each other and understand we need each other and expect more. The schools where the expectations are high, such as Pierce Elementary and Westwood Elementary, are not hindered by the challenges in this district. The children are not the problem.
Q: Because Oklahoma City is making so much progress, what will you do to provide a workforce that keeps up with that progress?
A: This is an issue that affects everyone in Oklahoma City. We must come together to provide public education for all our children, which they can build on — going to college, creating a business, learning a trade that they enjoy or anything else they think of.
Q: Is there a group of students who are unreachable?
A: I do not believe so.
It is time we assume some responsibility for the education of our children and bridge the gap between public and private education. I believe apathy is our partner in crime, and we are beginning to address our crimes.
School board chairwoman