Path Home News Director's Weekly Memo 2014 Monday Memo 2014-02-17
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Monday Memo 2014-02-17

Reminder to follow on Twitter; can we consider ourselves successful when our students fail?; Smartest Kids in the World – Ripley; competency-based programming possible with Pell Grant provisions; Senate confirms my appointment as secretary of education and workforce development; National FFA Week celebrated; mathematics and CareerTech – Success is enhanced; Oklahoma Energy; and my schedule for the week.
"Be happy. It's one way of being wise."– Colette

Reminder to follow on Twitter

Just a reminder you can follow me on Twitter at @rdsommers. I look forward to having you follow the daily information as well as the Monday Memo.

Can we consider ourselves successful when our students fail?

This is the ultimate question we must face. While we will probably never succeed with every student, we must begin with the assumption we can and must. To begin elsewhere assures we will fall short of our potential. Can all students learn? We have proof in schools across Oklahoma and the nation suggesting YES. We do have a very small percentage of students who have eluded us all, but we keep trying.

So we know it’s possible. Now we, as educators, must commit to what currently seems impossible. We are capable enough to succeed. It’s just whether we will turn our attention to solutions rather than excuses. We are all guilty of the latter. We must support each other in seeking the former.

Smartest Kids in the World – Ripley

There have been lots of discussions around the new book “The Smartest Kids in the World” by Amanda Ripley. The book is written through the eyes of students from Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Minnesota who participate in student exchange programs with Finland, Poland and South Korea respectively. The author is a journalist, not an education pundit. The combination of student perspective with a person who has no particular education reform agenda provides for a refreshing education book. I recommend this book to anyone interested in education reform.

If you are interested in hearing directly from the author, here is a taped interview of her experiences writing the book.

Competency-based programming possible with Pell Grant provisions

We have received confirmation that through appropriate application we can remove the hour requirements from coursework eligible for Pell Grants. This is a significant step forward in our efforts to be performance versus regulatory driven. Dawn Lindsley, ODCTE, has received specific instructions for converting to what the U.S. Department of Education calls direct assessment credit granting.

We will be forming a project team to undertake the task of converting all tech centers interested in this flexibility to approval status. We will be doing everything we can to complete the work on behalf of the tech centers.

For those skeptics among us, here is the communication indicating our options: Stay tuned for this fantastic opportunity.

Senate confirms my appointment as secretary of education and workforce development

The Oklahoma Senate confirmed the governor’s decision to appoint me the secretary of education and workforce development. The vote was nearly along party lines. While these sorts of confirmations are often considered routine, Oklahoma history reminds us it isn’t always automatic. Linda Murphy was nominated by then Gov. Keating to be the secretary of education and the Senate rejected the nomination. I personally appreciate the confidence the Senate had in my serving Oklahoma education through this role.

National FFA Week celebrated

In celebration of National FFA Week, Feb. 15-22, we are honored to have Dr. Steve Brown, national FFA adviser, Office of Career Technical and Adult Education, USDE, visiting and traveling throughout Oklahoma. He will travel with the state FFA officer team and visit nine business and industry partners. He will also tour eight schools with agricultural education/FFA programs, do media interviews and spend time with the OSU ag-ed teacher preparation program.

Also, as a part of National FFA Week, Monday, Feb. 17, was FFA Day at the state Capitol. Representatives of Oklahoma’s 24,598 FFA members representing 354 high school programs were on hand to provide key messages to their hometown legislators, as well as to serve them a pork lunch in appreciation for their service. (contributed by Kent Boggs)

Mathematics and CareerTech – Success is enhanced

CareerTech will host a Tech Centers That Work Numeracy and Mathematics Design Collaborative: Bridging CareerTech and Mathematics Practices and Standards workshop March 11-12 at Moore Norman Technology Center’s South Penn Campus. Marty Sugerik from SREB will present.

Registration details:

  1. The cost is $75 per person and includes breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and handouts.
  2. Purchase orders should be made payable to CareerTech.
  3. The workshop will begin at 8:30 a.m. both days and will conclude no later than 4 p.m.
  4. Please review the cancellation policy on the registration page.
  5. Register participants via iCAT by 5 p.m. March 5. iCAT link:

Contact Twila Green at or Melissa Overcash at for additional information.

Oklahoma Energy

The Feb. 23 edition of “Oklahoma Horizon” will highlight how Francis Tuttle Technology Center trains students for a career in the wind energy industry. From safety to electronics, these students are prepared for a job as soon as they graduate from the program. (contributed by Andy Barth)

Schedule for the week

This schedule is subject to change without notice:


Office holiday
Meeting with Jake Yunker
Meeting with governor’s office on legislation


Morning chat with agency staff
Process Improvement team leader meeting
Senior leadership meeting
Meeting on Advanced Career curriculum from SREB
Meeting on digital presentation
Meeting with Jim Aulgur


Meeting with Ben Robinson
Business and Industry Day at the Capitol – presentation
Governor’s cabinet meeting
Office of Education Quality and Accountability
Meeting with selected comprehensive superintendents


Meeting with director evaluation advisory group
State CareerTech Board meeting
Meeting with OMES
Presentation to Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness
Meeting with Rep. Nollan


Instructional Process Quality Train the Trainer session two
General office work


See you around!

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