Alpha Plus Guest Opinion
"Made-in-Oklahoma solutions: Do the math"
by Edna McDuffie Manning, Ed.D., Mathematics, The University of Houston
Founder and President Emerita, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
As an educator for nearly 50 years, it was an honor serving the state when public and private partners invested in our future by building the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. As I worked with traditional schools throughout the state for many years, it is concerning to see the funding crisis continue to worsen.
The new Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS) set the bar high. It has been my belief that our students can perform as well as any nationally when on a level playing field. A main reason for that faith is because we have some of the best teachers in America. Unfortunately, we no longer have enough of them.
Oklahoma can have the highest standards in the nation and the best school-improvement plan in the world, but without great teachers to execute the plan, the effort may be futile. The state has resorted to approving more emergency teaching licenses: Nearly 1,700 emergency certificated educators are instructing more than 50,000 students.
It is true that anybody can set standards, but improving instruction is where the real work begins. Such dramatic change is not easy for any teacher; but if one is new to the classroom or to the subject, it is even more difficult to create effective, aligned lessons.
That is why I partnered with Jan Barrick, CEO of Alpha Plus Educational Systems, to write a unique math textbook to help educators teach state standards to mastery.
Historically, our state’s weakest subject has been math when compared to science or English Language Arts. Since the new standards have a significantly different learning progression, we decided to start with mathematics.
Alpha Plus is a small business in Oklahoma City that has worked with teachers throughout the state for 30 years. As such, it was fairly easy to find quality Oklahoma educators who could share their lesson plans and best practices addressing each OAS objective.
Edited by school-improvement experts and featuring cover artwork by Oklahoma artist Joy Richardson, Success with OAS is being printed and bound in Oklahoma City, and shipped from here to schools across the state. It is a made-in-Oklahoma solution that will improve instruction.
The variables remaining are how much funding will be restored for schools and whether a long-overdue pay raise will keep the best and brightest teachers in Oklahoma classrooms.
The enduring teacher shortage needs a made-in-Oklahoma solution to this critical equation: higher standards – thousands of teachers = x.
To my friends in the Legislature: Do the math.