Education

TPS board member takes swipe at GLA despite the school’s growing success

 

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Tulsa Public School (TPS) Board Member Jennettie Marshall of District 3 receives information from TPS Chief Andrea Castañeda on the positive progress of Greenwood Leadership Academy TPS’s first partnership school at a school board meeting on Monday, January 6, 2020. | Photo by Nehemiah D. Frank 

Published 01/07/2020 | Reading Time 1 min 37 sec 

By BWSTimes Staff 

At Monday night’s Tulsa Public School Board Meeting, District 3 Board Member Jennettie Marshall to all appearances took another swipe at Greenwood Leadership Academy (GLA). Marshall has been a fierce critic against the partnership school since the school opened in the fall of 2017, as well as a critic of other TPS public charter partners like KIPP. 

Despite GLA’s high employment of people of color and the school’s aim to see all of its students succeed academically, especially its students of color, Marshall was the only school board member who opposed the partnership between TPS and GLA in 2017. 

While enrollment and attendance continue to be a TPS district-wide problem, both the enrollment and attendance are up at GLA; moreover, its suspension rates continue to fall, and that’s according to the district’s data. 

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Furthermore, students are meeting their academic growth goals in Reading and Math, exceeding other area schools serving similar student demographics.

Nevertheless, Marshall found something to dig at the meeting: “Reviewing the performance data that we have, it indicates that the Math percentage of students proficent is 5.56%, so we break that down of 53 students that’s about 3 students. And then Reading, the number of students that are proficient in the 50 percentile is 13.21%, when you break that down that’s 7.5 students,” Marshall said. 

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Tulsa Public School (TPS) Board Member Jennettie Marshall of District 3 at school board meeting on Monday, January 06, 2020. | Photo by Nehemiah D. Frank 

Superintendent Deborah Gist attempted to pass the floor to Chief Innovation Officer Andrea Castañeda, who has more knowledge on GLA’s academic progress: “So, I think we will go ahead and have Chief Andrea Castañeda walk you through this because I want to make sure the Board understands the report and doesn’t understand the wrong messages from the report — ” Gist was then briefly interrupted by a white man in audience who interjected, shouting, “No! Come on! She’s a board member; she needs to be able to speak. Thank you! She’s an elected official.” A few audience members applauded — notably, no one from GLA. 

Marshall further explained that GLA’s renewal was brought prematurely before the school board despite having knowledge of the district-wide changes that include possible school closures and grade configurations, which includes Academy Central and affects GLA; it loses its 6th-grade at the end of this school year. 

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Chief Castañeda did finally explain to Marshall’s inquiry that “Proficiency rates for Greenwood in Math and Reading are actually exceeding all of the comparable elementary schools in the district,” that coupled with, again, high enrollment and attendance, and low suspension rates. 

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Greenwood Leadership Academy board member and former state senator Jabar Shumate at Tulsa Public School Board Meeting on Monday, January 6, 2020.  | Photo by Nehemiah D. Frank 

Castañeda’s statement was followed by applause from the GLA staff and supporters as well as other audience members and was heard throughout the audience. 

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, the Board will vote to authorize Greenwood Leadership Academy Partnership School at Academy Central to receive its 2020-2021 enrollment applications for PK-5th grade and approve the renewal of their partnership school application for the 2020 – 2021 school year, its fourth year. 

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