I found this quote today and thought you might find it insightful.
“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad.” - Theodore Roosevelt
I was recently reading your decision not to allow a foreign exchange student to graduate from your school district. Initially, I thought perhaps her G.P.A. was lacking, but according to theTulsa World, with her AP classes, she has higher than a 4.0 G.P.A. I then thought perhaps all her credit hours did not transfer from her previous foreign institution, but also according to the Tulsa World and the World Education Services of New York, she completed 11 years of school before her Senior year. Finally, I thought surely there must be a rule in Sperry denying foreign exchange students a diploma and to my dismay, no such rule, bi-law, statute or code exists. In fact, the only districts that have such a rule are Union, Jenks and Broken Arrow. In addition, The Oklahoma Education Code says, “the state Board of Education shall adopt rules to ensure that students who transfer from out of state after the junior year shall not be denied, because of differing graduation requirements, the opportunity to receive a standard diploma.” What am I missing? Why would you deny a diploma to a 4.0 G.P.A. student, with a 26 ACT score and an $8,000 per year scholarship to OSU? I think I may have uncovered the answer.
According to Census.gov, Sperry only has an 8% college matriculation rate (Translation for Sperry Residents: Only 8 in 100 people in your town has ever attempted college) and the national average is over 24%. Your high school graduation rate is far below the national average. Nearly 1/3 of your population is on disability and the median household income is $20,000 below the national average. With nearly 20% of your population below the poverty level, I get it. Who did this young lady thing she was bringing in her “Jap” smarts and upstaging your entire high school? You are a town of underachievers and would not dare let someone achieve academic success and bear the high school alma mater of Sperry. In true Sperry fashion, you would send an OSU scholarship recipient to her freshman year with a GED…you showed her. Ok, maybe I’m being too harsh, I think I may have found a better reason.
Digging a little into the backgrounds of the School Board members who voted on the measure, Derrell Morrow (Board President), Jeff Carter, and Gary Juby, I found some interesting info. As it turns out, the School Board President is a high school graduate of Sperry (1981), never attended college and is the local plumber. Seriously you ask…yes, seriously. Second, Jeff Carter also never attended college and is the local electrician. I fully understand why no one stood up for the child’s academic advancement; the School Board hasn’t achieved its own.
Sperry School Board, your community is a struggling economic, academic and teenage pregnancy mess. Instead of alienating a student in your community and with shortsighted thought, trying to steal her dreams of higher education, think to the quote I gave you, steal the whole railroad and embrace her as one of your own. Perhaps when she has finished med school, she would return as a valued and contributing member to your community. Luckily a Tulsa County Judge has righted this wrong. I’ll leave you with this
“Educators are intended to be ambassadors of academic success not administrators of academic mediocrity.” – James E. Jones
James E. Jones