Million Dollar Construction Program has Mixed Results at Oklahoma City Schools

Written by Patricia Hawke for

On the face of it, the MAP For Kids project, an ambitious $700 million renovation and construction program that aims to benefit Oklahoma City Schools is a program that can’t fail.  It has all the criteria needed to make it a success – it has the backing of the city administration and in fact, is the corner stone of Mayor Cornett’s time in office.  It has the funding required to renovate dilapidated buildings, broken down classrooms, ill equipped labs and the other infrastructure necessities that are so apparent in Oklahoma City Schools.
But even when Maps for Kids was being set into motion, there were fears that the project would result in spanking new exteriors in many Oklahoma City Schools, butt that the rot inside would be hard to stem.  There was anxiety that after millions of dollars pumped into the renovation of Oklahoma City Schools, the drop out rate would still be high, and tests scores as dismal as they were.
Now six years after the 10 year program was first kicked off, analysts are looking at the results that Maps for Kids has thrown up.  First, let’s look at the positive things. There have been many renovation projects going on at a number of Oklahoma City Schools.  Newer schools have come up, and there are shiny new buses ferrying students to field trips and back home. There is enough to take pride in.
But there is also another less encouraging side to the story.
While enrollment is steady, the number of schools actually attending Oklahoma City Schools is falling.  This is especially true of elementary and middle school students.
There has been a spike in the number of charter school enrollments. You could take this to mean that students aren’t satisfied with the standards of traditional Oklahoma City Schools. This is a disturbing sign.
While drop out rates have been lowered, there is a risk of students going out into the world unprepared to meet the demands of the workforce in a 21st century society.
There is a pressing need for early childhood education programs, but the number of students in these programs is quite negligible. There seems to be a lack of interest.
In other words, the construction efforts have yielded great results and the changes in school infrastructure at Oklahoma City Schools are plainly evident for all too see. It’s the non infrastructure related facets of education that still seem to be stagnant.   This is very worrying to educators and analysts alike who bemoan the fact that much is made of spanking new buildings, but not enough is done to actually improve the quality of education so students have a better chance of coping when they graduate.
After all, education is about a lot more than freshly painted walls and gleaming tiled floors.