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Monday Memo 2013-11-25

Happy Thanksgiving!; Can You Measure The American Dream?; Creativity Forum highlights CareerTech; Boggs recognized by his national peers; performance-based funding details being developed; Northeast Technology Center students set record AND prove CareerTech; fire certifications established; National Technical Honor Society members meet; Baldrige and schools, a way to advance education; the question of class size; and my schedule for the week.
Monday Memo 2013-11-25

Northeast Technology Center Punkin' Chunkin' Team sets world record

"Facing it — always facing it — that's the way to get through. Face it!" – Joseph Conrad

Happy Thanksgiving

May you have a wonderful holiday season and time with family and friends. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to remember the full part of the glass. We can easily identify challenges and problems in our daily lives, but we are also blessed with many wonderful experiences. Please take a moment to count your blessings and the opportunities before you. Denise and I do so every day. From grandchildren to parents, from life experiences to quiet times together, from work that matters to play that refreshes, we know we lead gifted lives. Oh, we have all kinds of pains, struggles, irritations and distractions, but we work hard to keep them in perspective. Most days we succeed! May you have the same opportunity over Thanksgiving and beyond.

One of the blessings for Denise and me this year has been our new relationship with Oklahoma. We knew of the quality of the Oklahoma CareerTech system and its wonderful people from a distance. Close up, both the system and its people are even more amazing. The agency staff is professional, motivated and excited about new opportunities. The school-based teams are innovative and focused on student success. Additionally, Oklahoma has afforded Denise and me opportunities and experiences that exceed all our expectations. From the governor and her team to the folks working at Bricktown restaurants, Oklahoma is truly impressive. Every day shows me why we Oklahomans can be proud of our state!

Can You Measure The American Dream?

This is a great article about a group of economists who are designing ways to measure quality of life for all of us. This is the sort of work that will drive our thinking to the most important matters in life. Now if we all can learn to love our results more than our processes, we can make progress that matters to all people. Enjoy the read.

Creativity Forum highlights CareerTech

Metro Technology Centers’ South Bryant Campus students and faculty worked with artist Douglas Elder to create a five-story art installation that was featured in the atrium of the Creativity Forum. This effort not only transformed the Civic Center Music Hall this past week, but may have transformed students’ lives! Television stories on “Oklahoma Horizons and OETA” will feature Metro Tech students and faculty in upcoming news stories, The “Oklahoman” and “The Journal Record” ran (or will run Monday) print stories, The Oklahoma Department of Career Tech featured Metro Tech on its web page. Students in CADD, construction trades, building maintenance, graphic communications and video production were actively engaged in the design, execution and installation of this amazing project. For more information about this STEM project, check out the facebook site: or see a student-produced YouTube video:
(contributed by Ann Houston)

Boggs recognized by his national peers

Kent Boggs was awarded the Outstanding Executive Secretary honor by the national agricultural education community at this year’s National FFA Convention. Kent has led the Oklahoma FFA organization to impressive levels of performance and service to youth. This is a well-deserved recognition.

Performance-based funding details being developed

Initial work related to the details of the performance-based funding system are being developed with input from the field. We are working through the following issues:

  • Which performance results will we pay for and what will each be worth? Each strategic purpose will have its own desired performance results. Our current goal is to establish payment levels at a five-year return on tax invested.
  • How will payments be adjusted for regional poverty and for difficulty of student success? We are exploring ways to adjust payments based on general wealth of a region with more state funding going to poorer parts of the state. We are also developing concepts around extra pay for students with disadvantages that make them harder to serve (and if we are successful with them, they not only increase taxes, but reduce government program costs).
  • How will we allocate funds so schools know their potential funding capacity? We are trying to create a system designed to allocate funds for availability on a school-by-school basis so it isn’t a first come, first pay system.

Stay tuned and in touch on this work. We want to be sure the system creates an ROI for the taxpayers and encourages schools to run high-quality programs focused on generating wealth for Oklahomans, Oklahoma companies and Oklahoma.

Northeast Technology Center students set record AND prove CareerTech

Northeast Technology Center students recently set a record for how far they threw a pumpkin! First, the record breaker wasn’t just a minor advancement. They beat the previous distance record of 1,564 feet by nearly 1,000 feet. Second, they did it with a trebuchet (the name of the “punkin’ chunkin’” machine) with only 10 percent of the counterweights of their competitors’ units. For the uninitiated (that would include me), the counterweight size was historically the engineering advantage every other team was seeking. The NTC team changed the size focus with its innovative machine.

Here is where this story moves from a special interest story to one of educational importance. The tech center team won by designing and building an incredibly innovative and well-built trebuchet. They combined academic knowledge, creativity, persistence, hard work and technical skills to create a new competitive benchmark. They not only thought about something, THEY BUILT IT. They demonstrated the sort of brain AND brawn power American companies are seeking in their workforce. Seek no further, CareerTech delivers – at record setting levels. Just think what these young people are going to accomplish when they go out and work for or build their own companies. I’m just glad these youth didn’t settle for a traditional high school educational experience! Here is an article with the details: (story shared by Jeremy Zweiacker)

Fire certifications established

The Testing Division has finalized an agreement with the State Fire Marshal’s office to administer certification assessments for personal fire extinguisher, pre-engineered fire suppression systems and engineered fire suppression systems. Assessments will be offered through our state’s network of Health Certification Project test sites, beginning in December 2013. (contributed by Jennifer Nuttle)

National Technical Honor Society members meet

Oklahoma National Technical Honor Society students and advisers heard from historical figures and the director of an Oklahoma leadership institute at the eighth annual Oklahoma NTHS State Leadership Conference. Approximately 230 students, advisers and guests attended the conference Nov. 21 at Moore Norman Technology Center’s South Penn Campus. Warren Martin, director of General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum, spoke at the conference. Oklahoma Historical Society re-enactors playing a colonial soldier and Rosie the Riveter also shared stories about how they helped shape the United States. Wendy Hamil, NTHS marketing director, was recognized as a special guest, and Robert Sommers, state director of Oklahoma CareerTech and Oklahoma secretary of education and workforce development, was inducted as NTHS’s newest member for his contributions to career and technology education.

The NTHS recognizes outstanding student achievement in career and technology education. Approximately 2,331 new members were inducted into Oklahoma’s 91 NTHS chapters during the 2012-13 school year. The state organization will meet next on Feb. 26 for its annual Day at the Capitol.
(contributed by Jeremy Zweiacker)

Baldrige and schools, a way to advance education

Here is a story from our neighbors in Missouri regarding a $1 million prize offer for the first school to earn the prestigious Baldrige Award. The article speaks to the power of Baldrige to make a difference in educational quality. Oklahoma’s own Jenks Public Schools has been one of the rare national winners of this very challenging award. The Oklahoma CareerTech department is in the process of converting the tech center accreditation process to one based on the Baldrige process. We are also using Baldrige criteria to guide our system and agency improvement efforts.

The question of class size

Everyone talks about lowering class size to create better education. This urban myth (except for very specific circumstances for very specific student groups) holds the imagination of educators, parents and policy makers. According to the seminal book on educational research, “Visible Learning” by John Hattie, the impact of smaller class size on student performance is 106th in a list of powerful educational reforms. In fact, creativity programs (17th) and teacher expectations for students (58th) have significantly more impact. Now it appears parents and teachers, given the right circumstances, value something more than class size reduction.

Parents opt for larger classes taught by excellent teachers, over smaller classes with instructors of unknown skill:

Schedule for the week

This schedule is subject to change without notice:


Meeting with Jim Dunlap
Meeting with Dan Schiedel
NGA conference call
Meeting with metro area tech center superintendents
Meeting with Terri Watson
Meeting with Nate Webb


Meeting with chancellor and state superintendent
Tour of OU learning lab
Meeting with Oklahoma City Schools officials


Senior leader meeting
Meeting with Wes Watkins






See you around!

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