January 30, 2014

Oklahoma Watch-Out Forum: Challenges and Hopes for Public Education

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Dave Lopez, Oklahoma City Public Schools interim superintendent, and Keith Ballard, Tulsa Public Schools superintendent, are featured guests at “Oklahoma Watch-Out” March 6
Question-and-answer forum to focus on challenges and hopes for public education

Dave Lopez

Dave Lopez

Keith Ballard

Keith Ballard

OKLAHOMA CITY – The leaders of Oklahoma’s two largest public school districts will be featured guests at “Oklahoma Watch-Out: A Community Forum on K-12 Education” on Thursday, March 6, from 6-7 p.m. at Kamps 1910 Café at 10 N.E. 10th St. in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dave Lopez and Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard will answer questions and discuss their approaches to public education, especially in districts such as theirs that have large numbers of low-income, at-risk students.

Oklahoma is an underperformer in K-12 education. In the most recent “Nation’s Report Card,” students in about 40 states scored higher than those in Oklahoma on math and reading. Executive Editor David Fritze and other members of the editorial staff will moderate the discussion. Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP to events@oklahomawatch.org and come with questions.

Oklahoma Watch editorial staff launched the “Oklahoma Watch-Out” event series in 2013 to further the nonprofit’s mission, which is to report on significant public-policy issues affecting the state.

Lopez joined Oklahoma City Public Schools as interim superintendent in August 2013. Long active in corporate and community leadership positions, he now directs his energies to education. At the January board meeting, he proposed a six-month plan to improve academic performance, administrative accountability and community involvement. Lopez said he would first reorganize district operations, terminating some positions and relocating others to better serve teachers and principals at select schools.

Lopez previously served as Secretary of Commerce for the State of Oklahoma, appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin in February 2011. He also is a retired officer of SBC Communications (now AT&T). Before concluding a 22-year career with AT&T, Lopez held a variety of executive positions with its predecessor company in Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Austin. Lopez served his last six years as an officer of the corporation, including a four-year assignment as its president of Oklahoma.

As superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, Ballard has worked to pass the largest bond in the history of the state totaling $354 million. He led the way for the district to work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on teacher and leader effectiveness, one of only 10 school districts selected in the U.S. He oversaw the development of a new teacher evaluation system that has been adopted by 500 school districts across Oklahoma. In addition, he manages Project Schoolhouse, an efficiency program that addresses changing student populations and school building utilization.

Ballard’s career in Tulsa-area education began in 1972. He worked as teacher, assistant high school principal and assistant superintendent before becoming a superintendent of Oologah Public Schools in 1986 and Claremore Public Schools in 1992. Ballard served as the executive director of the Oklahoma State Schools Boards Association before becoming superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools in 2008.