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by Nehemiah D. Frank
Tulsa, Okla. — Oklahoma is scheduled to receive $16.5 million over the duration of five years. The education grant is allocated for the expansion of some 30 charter schools across the Sooner state. Oklahoma is one of nine states notified, last Thursday, by the Department of Education regarding the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools’ Program (CSP) Grants to State Entities.
“The major purposes of the CSP [grants] are to expand opportunities for all students, particularly traditionally underserved students, to attend charter schools and meet challenging State academic standards; provide financial assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of public charter schools; increase the number of high-quality charter schools available to students across the United States; evaluate the impact of charter schools on student achievement, families, and communities; share best practices between charter schools and other public schools; encourage States to provide facilities support to charter schools; and support efforts to strengthen the charter school authorizing process.” – U.S. Department of Education
For over a decade, Oklahoma state legislatures have been playing God with the future of children’s lives from across the state; rural and urban children have consistently received the shorter end of the stick. Their life chances seemingly dwindle with every No Vote. When it comes to increasing the state’s budget for public education, every no vote represents another thousand kids buckled and fastened tight on the state’s school-to-prison pipeline.
This federal grant is a lifeline and a much-needed stimulus for a seemingly desolate education system and provides a glimmer of hope for thousands of children and their families who are cautious about putting their children in the public education system due to low performance and the state’s prolonged budget crisis.
Shaneka Landrum’s said, “Galan is in Pre-Advanced classes, and they want him to take a test for gifted classes.” Shaneka’s daughter’s teacher sent home a note asking “Could Anissa take a test for gifted classes?”
Landrum’s daughter, a 4th-grader, took the national gifted classes test and ranked 7th in the nation, 11th in the nation for math, and is reading at a 6th-grade level while in the 4th-grade.
“I would pick charter over any school,” Shaneka said. She went on to finish our conversation with, “Anissa’s a little bored in her classes. So, right now, they take her out of some of the subjects and put her with 5th graders.”
Shaneka’s testimony to how well the good charter schools work. Furthermore, it’s a prelude to a now foreseeable future on the closing of the achievement gap between black students and their counterparts. Importantly, we could witness a significant slowing of the school-to-prison pipeline.
High-Quality Charter in the Tulsa Area
Currently, Tulsa has the number one academically ranked charter school in the state of Oklahoma, Deborah Brown Community School (DBCS). DBCS has consistently earned an A+ on the state’s annual standardized test, followed by Sankofa Middle School of the Performing Arts which currently has an 86 percent and sits just behind Carver Middle School. Both schools were founded by the esteemed Deborah Brown.
The much anticipated Greenwood Leadership Academy opened its doors this past August and the Greenwood/North Tulsa community anticipates GLA will become a shining example of academic excellence as well.
Kojo Asamoa-Ceasar Principal of Greenwood Leadership Academy says “We need an all hands on deck approach to fixing our broken education system in Oklahoma. Whether it be charter, partnership or traditional public schools, at the end of the day, all the kids are our kids and we want to ensure that they get the best education possible. This grant is great news that should be celebrated by all because it means Oklahoma kids get much needed resources to help them achieve their full potential.”
For the 2018-2019 school year, Shaneka plans to bring her daughter back to the Deborah Brown program and to Sankofa middle school.