Notably, Allen isn't among those blaming socioeconomic factors for Oklahoma City school failures. He says 95 percent of students from all backgrounds are capable of learning and suggests better school discipline policies are needed for the other 5 percent causing most problems.
No doubt Oklahoma City administrators and board members have a different take and explanations for the problems Allen cites. Still, the issues he raises are troubling.
If the choice is between federal money and efficient use of teachers, we agree with Allen's view that teachers' energies are better expended on core education functions rather than “busy work” created by federal grants. Reports of a 50 percent grade rule are truly dismaying. That practice would discourage students who actually do their course work and are graded accordingly. Workplace employees don't get half a paycheck regardless of hours worked. Why should school grades be different?
The issue of rehiring bad actors should upset all area parents and community leaders. That practice embeds institutional barriers to improvement in the school system while undermining educators who work diligently and ethically.
There's plenty of blame to go around, but as the saying goes, the fish rots from the head down. Ultimately, the success or failure of Oklahoma City schools starts at the top. As Oklahoma City district leaders work to right the ship, we hope they take seriously Allen's critique and consider his proposals for improvement.