Nelson Announces Oklahoma Leads Plan to Build World-Class Education System

October 25, 2022
2 min read

Nelson Announces Oklahoma Leads Plan to Build World-Class Education System
Five-Pillar Blueprint Will Unite Teachers, Parents and Students for Public Education

OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 3, 2022) – Jena Nelson, candidate for Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction, today announces a blueprint for saving and strengthening public schools for future generations of students and educators.

“I attended Oklahoma rural public schools growing up and I believe in the future of public education. I believe that every child in the state should have the same access to a high-quality public education – regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make. Public schools save lives. I can say this with authority because my school saved my life. I’m proud to announce a five-pillar blueprint – the Oklahoma Leads Plan – designed to cultivate a continuous cycle of improvement ensuring all public-school students, educators and parents have opportunities for success,” Nelson said. 

The Oklahoma Leads Plan (OLP) includes common sense policy priorities for students, educators and parents with an eye to academic achievement, trauma-informed classroom training, college preparation and career readiness. OLP will also create a pathway to increased teacher pay with fewer burdensome and unnecessary obligations. It also includes an ambitious plan to turn Oklahoma’s public schools into community hubs – ensuring a better tomorrow for urban, suburban, and rural Oklahoma. 

“When teachers thrive, students thrive. As an educator working in public schools for 17 years, I know that we ask too much of our educators, paraprofessionals and other school staff. But instead of treating them like pros – paying them well and giving them the support they need – we impose accountability measures that punish them for factors completely out of their control,” Nelson said.

 Oklahoma Leads Plan

 1. Center Educators in School Culture

  • Conduct an annual school culture survey administered by the State Department of Education 
  • Allow educators to anonymously disclose issues and provide suggestions for improvement
  • SDE will identify schools with low morale and provide resources to improve culture
  • Working alongside the legislature, create a roadmap to at least $5,000 in additional pay for every public-school teacher in Oklahoma 
  • Promote “grow your own” programs within public high schools, cultivating the next generation of public school teachers


2. Innovate Student Achievement and Build Parental Partnerships

  • Expand alternative education opportunities to increase high school graduation for all students statewide
  • Listen to families and foster their engagement in their student’s education by creating a new Parental Advisory Team in the SDE to provide input on policy decision
  • Align Oklahoma’s CareerTech system with the hiring needs of local companies and greater access to high-demand, good-paying jobs for more students
  • Add innovative career-based learning, accelerated curriculums, concurrent college enrollment and Advance Placement (AP) classes
  • Increase access to early-college programs in areas with regional universities and community colleges

3. Keep Public Dollars in Public Schools

  • Demonstrate the power of public schools and community empowerment to shape student success
  • Emphasize Oklahoma’s open transfer policies that allow students and parents the freedom to choose their schools 
  • Develop innovation hubs in public schools to revitalize small towns and urban areas to teach skills for good-paying jobs
  • Incentivize educators to teach in rural or underserved communities

 4. Reform State Testing and Remove Burdens

  • Train administrators to identify struggling teachers and provide them with additional support 
  • Expand teacher-to-teacher mentorship programs
  • Eliminate unfunded mandates and unnecessary programs that reduce instruction time
  • Restructure mandated testing to lessen impact on instruction 
  • Evaluate and assess student achievement without unnecessarily burdening students and teachers

5. Boost Trauma-Informed Classroom Education

  • Increase access to quality mental health care
  • Collaborate with health agencies to offer access to mental health services on every campus
  • Strengthen and expand Oklahoma’s School Counselor Corp 
  • Infuse schools with trauma response culture and programming developed by teachers and counselors in Oklahoma
  • Move students from trauma to a pathway of success

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