Leadership matters in Oklahoma City schools

February 12, 2018

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Leadership matters. That was the topic of this column as Aurora Lora first took the reigns as superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools. Leadership matters just as much now as it did then and, despite the fact that we have had yet another superintendent turnover, it is up to all of us to remain focused on what is most important for our schools and our kids. The turnover in superintendents in OKCPS is alarming and the root cause must be uncovered and addressed as the search for a new leader takes place.

Being a superintendent is a very difficult job anywhere, but large urban districts have many additional challenges. Add to that budget cuts, decades of underfunding and low teacher pay and the work is even more daunting. Oklahoma City Public Schools needs a leader prepared and willing to take on this work. Our district needs a leader that will provide consistency and vision and solid judgment. Our schools need a leader that knows how to collaborate and communicate vision. Our district needs a leader who will stay for more than 18 months.

As the search begins for this leader, the community has a role to play and a responsibility to own our part of the problem. We cannot expect one person to be the savior of our schools. It is up to the community to take an active role in a number of very important ways:

Provide input to the Board of Education about the traits we need in our superintendent.

Support who the Board of Education hires and give him/her the time to implement before criticizing every decision.

Vote in Board of Education elections and consider running yourself if you have the background and desire.

Support high standards and expect accountability, realizing the current performance outcomes are caused by many factors and wrap around services are critically important for our kids.

Celebrate successes and look for the good stories within our schools. There are many great things happening, but they don't always make the front page.

Support collaboration and compromise. We know that Oklahoma City has grown and prospered by citizens working together. The MAPS projects have transformed our city and much of the subsequent economic development has happened through many pulling the rope in the same direction. This same approach is desperately needed in public education. Fewer agendas and fragmented priorities and more focus on a collective vision would be a game changer for our schools.

Find ways to share your time, talent and treasure with Oklahoma City Public Schools. There are many ways to engage and your support is needed.

Remember above all to support what is best for kids. They deserve it and our future depends on it.

Jack Welsh said, “Control your own destiny or someone else will”. Leadership matters and we need education leaders who are qualified, committed and focused. Leadership matters and that is a destiny.

Read Mary Mélon's original NewsOK editorial.