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Supt. Lora admits struggles in OKCPS district, but good "potential" for success is there

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Superintendent of the Oklahoma City School system, Aurora Lora, gave a presentation on March 6th at St Paul’s Cathedral in downtown Oklahoma City as part of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches annual Day at the Legislature event.

Lora began her address by telling of how that she is originally from the El Paso Texas region, and that her father was an immigrant from Mexico.

She attending a predominately Hispanic school in that area whose student routinely perform poorly on national tests, but she was a diligent student and graduated Valedictorian of her high school class.

But like the graduate of many low performing high schools, she encountered difficulty when she entered college and for a time considered dropping out. Fortunately, her mother dissuaded her, and she sought the help of tutors and others who could assist her and eventually obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Lora subsequently became part of the “Teach For America” program and her first assignment was to a Houston school whose pupils who predominately from low income homes.

She reported how the principal assigned to the school advised her that many of her students would not be passing the subjects she taught, and that prompted her to redouble her efforts with those students, and that many more of them passed as a result. Her diligence was rewarded the following year by her class size being doubled. She was later promoted to serve as the principal of a school for low income female students and succeeded in getting the majority of them to achieve greater academic success that was originally anticipated.

Lora subsequently served as a school administrator in Seattle, Washington before she made her way to the Oklahoma City School system several years ago, replacing Rob Neu.

She told her listeners that the Oklahoma City schools have problems but also potential, that include dedicated people working in it and a good community that is supportive of its efforts.

But she told of how 208 teachers were laid off due to budgetary problems previously and that more budget cuts are anticipated . Budget cuts have resulted in the loss of mental health counselors and other staff needed to assist low income students.

The superintendent also lamented the fact that most of the teachers who are graduating from

Oklahoma’s colleges and universities are lured across the Red River to schools in North Texas where their starting salaries are well over $50,000 per year and said that it would take seventeen years of service in the Oklahoma City schools to achieve that salary.

Lora also spoke of the so called “ School to prison pipeline” in which minority students are suspended or expelled from school and eventually find their way into incarceration. She said that she had a brother who had gone through that process in Texas, and that she is dedicated to working with school principals and others to keep such students enrolled in school. She said that such students need what are known as “wrap around services” that will ensure that they are given the resources and guidance that they need to become productive members of society.

Lora concluded that she is hopeful that the quality of the education offered by the Oklahoma City schools will be improved in the years to come.

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Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien is an attorney based in Oklahoma City.

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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