Name: Scott Pendleton
Occupation: Independent software/database developer
Lived in District 5 for: 20 years
Education: Bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas A&M
Why are you running for the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education District 5 seat?
This election is nothing less than a referendum on Tulsa’s future. Shall we thrive or dwindle? Tulsa cannot thrive unless Tulsa Public Schools does. Therefore, we will make it our mission to transform TPS into America’s best school district, as measured by academic performance.
First step: Elect a leader who embraces this exciting challenge. I have the desire, energy and vision to rally Tulsa behind this unprecedented but achievable goal.
Our “TPS Transformation” will happen over several years. We’ll see conspicuous improvement immediately, and steady progress thereafter.
On Feb. 11 Tulsa will choose its future. I urge all 29,000 District 5 voters to select success for our kids and community. Vote in person or request an absentee ballot at okvoterportal.okelections.us.
What are your primary goals and objectives as a board member if elected?
The “TPS Transformation” starts with elementary schools. We will produce proficient readers. Prolific readers. Prodigious readers. Kids who can reconcile a checkbook faster than their parents.
I’m not forgetting the 17% of TPS students enrolled in Special Ed. The fastest-growing category is autism, up 540% since 2002. Statewide, overall enrollment rose 12% while autism soared 788%.
Why, why is autism happening? There are doctors in Tulsa who report that vaccines caused their patients, including their own children, to regress into autism. The media insist that’s impossible, yet offer no alternate theory. Scientists have ruled out genetics.
Until this question is settled, TPS better expect the epidemic to worsen. We will do the utmost for our current and future SPED students.
How has your background/experience prepared you to succeed in this role?
My entire career and volunteer service consist of finding answers and making things work.
I was an award-winning journalist for 17 years, including two in the Middle East. I wrote the book series “The Ultimate Guide to Student Contests,” published in New York. Since 1999 I’ve developed software and databases for Oklahoma clients.
As a teenager, I was a counselor for two summers at a camp for kids with cognitive impairments. I’ll always remember silent, six-year-old Mary. She seemed unaware of everyone. But when camp ended, she ran to me and kissed me goodbye.
I was elected to lead the Tulsa Spotlight Theatre when it was in crisis. Thanks to many, the turnaround happened. It required years of patient persistence.
After weeks of collecting public input, Tulsa Public Schools is preparing to slash $20 million from its 2020-21 budget as a result of declining enrollment and a decade of state funding cuts to education. Part of Superintendent Deborah Gist’s proposal to the school board involves shutting down four elementary schools. One of those is Wright Elementary, which is located in District 5.
The proposal has drawn the ire of many families and community members, but TPS officials insist the closures are necessary for the district to operate within its continued fiscal restraints. How do you think TPS has handled the situation, and do you believe the recommendation is the right move?
The Superintendent’s message — “We asked for your input; here’s what you told us to do” — conveyed inevitability. Maybe that’s why hardly anyone showed up to hear it at the two presentations I attended. People had already shrugged and accepted that when change must happen, it will. Their anguish isn’t any less, though, over losing their beloved school.
But a building is not an education. That we will never sacrifice.
We’re going through a tough time. Only surging academic performance will snap our losing streak. Legendary calculus teacher Jaime Escalante said success requires ganas, desire. He singlehandedly turned LA’s poor, minority Garfield High School into a powerhouse of academic performance.
A united Tulsa can transform TPS into America’s best school district!
Enrollment at TPS has declined by about 5,000 students in the past decade. State data shows most students who left ended up in surrounding school districts and a variety of charter schools. What steps should TPS take to reverse its enrollment decline?
Competition for students is here to stay. Some will always choose private, charter or home school. As we embrace our mission to become America’s best school district, achievement will soar. That’s how TPS will compete for students while I’m on the leadership team.
Budgets and buildings and logistics have consumed the attention of TPS leaders for so long. We’ve got to get our focus back on what’s happening inside each classroom. That’s where education either happens or not.
Nothing motivates like a teacher’s smile. Personally, I’m a tech professional who’s skeptical of classroom computers and costly digital curricula. Know what’s great about a No. 2 pencil? There’s no operating system to upgrade, no viruses, no subscription fee. It’s never obsolete.