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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Information Regarding Dr. Porter's Suspension

A Palace Coup in OKC?

I have received new information considering the situation behind the move to oust Dr. John Porter from the position of Superintendent of the Oklahoma City Public Schools.

This information has led me to believe that what we are seeing is nothing short of a palace coup. I have known for some time that Dr. Porter's selection as superintendent dismayed certain holdovers from the previous administration of Supt. Bob Moore. These individuals, particularly one man, felt they should be the ones put in charge of the Oklahoma City School District after Moore left for Texas. Their ranks grew as Dr. Porter began to make changes in district policy and personnel. In particular, some of the Regional Administrators felt that Porter was demanding radical changes in their behavior. Porter's confrontational style of management made them determined work for his removal.

Their ranks began to swell as Porter then began to demand accountability from building principals telling them to "improve the product of their work" or risk being fired. Porter made statements acknowledging that 20-25% of the principals in the district were incompetent and needed to be replaced.

Our district must change in order to improve. No one can claim that we can keep doing what we've always done and make improvements. We must get rid of those unable or unwilling to do their jobs. This includes teachers as well as administrators. Incompetent teachers make all of our jobs more difficult and should be weeded out.

But even a school with a solid teaching corp can be thwarted by an incompetent administrator, one who fears disciplining unruly students and their enabling parents, one who is too lazy to guide and motivate struggling teachers, one who uses "divide and conquer" methods to manage staff. The teachers of this district have waited too long for a superintendent who is willing to confront these principals and make the changes necessary to correct the situation.

The Oklahoma City School Board is meeting on Friday to revisit this issue. They have had to do so because the meeting at which they suspended Dr. Porter seems to have been in violation of the state's Open Meetings Law. I urge them to use this meeting to examine new evidence which has come to light in this case. I urge them to seek reconcilition with all those involved.


Anonymous said...

Stay positive and hope for the best for the city and Mr. Porter. Do end with such a defeatist tone.

okla-gold said...

I meant ... "DON'T end with such a defeatist tone."

Lynn Green said...

I have taken your advice and called once again for reconciliation in this matter.