By William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor
updated 1:24 PM EST, Wed January 11, 2012

President Obama honors the 2011 Teacher of the Year, Michelle Shearer, in a Rose Garden ceremony.
President Obama honors the 2011 Teacher of the Year, Michelle Shearer, in a Rose Garden ceremony.


  • A new study finds that good teachers have a lasting positive effect on their students
  • William Bennett: Study is one of most consequential educational surveys in recent years
  • The study shows that having better teachers can affect students’ future earning potential
  • Bennett says it’s time to reward good teachers and fire the lowest-performing teachers

Editor’s note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of the newly published “The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood.” Bennett, the Washington fellow of the Claremont Institute, was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and was director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

(CNN) — A good teacher not only improves a child’s test scores in the classroom, but also enhances his or her chances to attend college, earn more money and avoid teen pregnancy, according to a new seminal study.

The study, conducted by economists Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia, tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years from a large urban school district from fouth grade to adulthood, making it one of the largest and most consequential educational studies in recent years.

Their findings focus on the long-term impact of teachers based on their “value-added” ratings. This refers to the average test-score improvement for a teacher’s students, adjusted for differences across schools and classrooms such as prior test scores. Evaluating teachers based on student performance has been the subject of much debate among teachers, unions and policymakers.

William Bennett

William Bennett

Teachers and teachers’ unions have been largely critical of the value-added approach, arguing that test scores are not good indicators of teacher quality. However, many reformers, like Stanford’s Eric Hanushek, argue that value-added ratings are some of the most accurate indicators for evaluating teachers and improving student performance.

This study puts the value-added approach to the test in a new way, measuring the short-term impact in the classroom as well as long-term impact, like a student’s collegiate, career and family success. The authors found that “when a high VA teacher joins a school, test scores rise immediately in the grade taught by that teacher; when a high VA teacher leaves, test scores fall.”

Most importantly, the study discovered that “students assigned to higher VA teachers are more successful in many dimensions. They are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods and save more for retirement. They are also less likely to have children as teenagers.”

The effect of a good teacher on a child’s life is monumental. In financial terms, the study notes that replacing a teacher whose true value-added is in the bottom 5% with a teacher of average quality would generate lifetime earnings gains worth more than $250,000 for the average classroom.

On the other hand, “If you leave a low value-added teacher in your school for 10 years, rather than replacing him with an average teacher, you are hypothetically talking about $2.5 million in lost income,” said Friedman.

The authors, two of whom were skeptical at first of the merits of value-added metrics, conclude the study by recommending that schools adapt value-added measures and fire the lowest-performing teachers.

Given the enormous contribution of good teachers to the lives of students, one would think the organizations that represent teachers would hail this study and disseminate its findings. This is not so.

Predictably, the teachers’ unions have been silent. Acknowledging the realities of this study would require the unions to make distinctions between good and bad teachers and hold them accountable for their performance, something they seem incapable of practicing, much less institutionalizing.

It is ironic that a report that praises great teachers seems to be ignored by teacher organizations.

This study shows that, second only to parents, teachers are the most important part of a child’s education. Great teachers make a great difference; poor teachers hurt a child’s life chances. Isn’t that all we need to know to embark upon a serious effort to reward good teachers and encourage poor teachers out of the profession?

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Courtesy of OKC Friday:
           The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University will honor some very special Fridaylanders in the next 30 days.The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine Alumni Association will host its Evening of Excellence honoring three health professionals, Jan. 26, at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Not a month later, Oklahoma City University Societies will honor four exceptional women during its annual Awards of Excellence dinner Feb. 25 at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club.
OU’s honorees include Martha Ferretti, P.T., M.P.H., Joseph Ferretti, Ph.D. and Terrence L. Stull, M.D. OCU will recognize Tricia Everest, Jane Thompson, Linda Rodgers and Connell Sullivan Branan.
           Martha Ferretti is chairman of OU College of Allied Health’s Department of Rehabilitation Services. She is a David Ross Boyd Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences and holds the Elam-Plowman Chair in Physical Therapy.
          Joseph J. Ferretti is a scientist and former senior vide president and provost at the OU College of Medicine, as well as the former chairman of the school’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He is now a George Lynn Cross Research Professor and has returned to his laboratory, where he was known for his work with streptococcal infections.
          Terrence L. Stull came to OU in 1994 from a college position in Philadelphia to take the position of chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. From a humble beginning in a hospital clinic, he has grown the department to Oklahoma’s largest pediatric clinic with a 176-member faculty.
          The Evening of Excellence is a benefit dinner for the College of Medicine Research Fund. The event will begin with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception. Dinner will follow.
Tickets are $250 and are available by calling 271-2353.
         Tricia Everest will receive the OCU Societies’ Distinguished Philanthropist Award. Her community organization memberships include trustee of Oklahoma City University, director for YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, vestry member of All Souls Church, board of visitors for Casady High School, board of visitors for OU International Studies, board of visitors for OU College of Law, director for the Committee of 100, YWCA Capital Campaign, OSBI Citizens Academy graduate, 2011 Beaux Arts Ball chairwoman benefiting the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and honorary member of Oklahoma Outreach Foundation. Everest has also competed in several events for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society benefits.
         Jane Thompson is the recipient Kirkpatrick-Petree Music and Performing Arts Society Award. Her volunteer activities have included co-chairing the Juliette Low Society Luncheon, Impact Oklahoma’s Derby Day, Heart Rhythm Institute Luncheon, UCO’s Music in the Metro fundraiser, Literary Voices, American Cancer Society’s Ranch Baron’s Ball, Allied Arts committee, Downtown OKC Inc.’s Dean A. McGee Awards Banquet, Integris Circle of Friends Gala, the Oklahoma City Arts Festival, the Alzheimer’s Gala and Impact Oklahoma’s Wine, Women and Shoes event.
         Linda Rodgers is the Dulaney-Browne Library Society Award honoree. Her statewide service has included the board for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence where she has served as president, chairwoman of the Fall Forum, chairwoman of the All-Staters Banquet and as a member of the executive committee. Other organizations she has been involved with are the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, University of Oklahoma Foundation, University of Oklahoma Alumni Association, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Weitzenhoffer Family College of fine Arts and the Lew Wentz Foundation.
         Connell Sullivan Branan will be honored with the Norick-Hulsey Gallery Society Award. Branan was named the National Young Mother of the Year in 2006 and is president of American Mothers, Inc.She serves on the executive committee for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and nominating committee of the Oklahoma School of Science and Math. She has been a member of the Junior League of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Library Endowment Trust, Allied Arts board and was the chairwoman of the 2009 Beaux Arts Ball.
        A reception for honorees will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner, entertainment from OCU’s Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management and the awards program. The country club is located at 7000 N.W. Grand Blvd. in Nichols Hills.
The 2012 Awards of Excellence co-chairmen are Linda Garrett and Karen Browne. Tickets and corporate sponsorships are available by calling 208-5290 or e-mailing

Here at the JRCoE, we pride ourselves in not only shaping the best students, but giving back to the community.  Check out what our Director of Development, Autumn, is doing to further mold our future.

Posted January 02, 2012 09:54 via the Norman Chamber of Commerce.

Tomorrow’s Leaders Class Announced

The Norman Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 2012 Tomorrow’s Leaders Class. The class of area high school sophomores who have been selected to participate in this year’s class include: Madison Allen, Abby Baker, Blakely Bynum, Hannah Connery, Alex Cullison, Malisha Franklin, Joseph Gao, Ashlyn Gardner, Winston Havenstrite, Ashleigh Isaac, Spencer Jones, Courtney Lashar, Callum Maguire, Maggie Marcum, Reiley Menzie, Kimberlin Miller, Shelby Miller, Zac Musgrove, Anna Lee Painter, Ben Parker, Peyton Powers, Hayley Redwine, Renee Roe, Luck Schuermann, Zach Schuermann, Jordan Smicklas, Michaela Smith, Kal Snodgrass, Zach Terry, Elizabeth Waters.

This popular program, sponsored by the Norman Chamber of Commerce, includes ten sessions covering such topics as team building, leadership styles, city and state government, ethics and diversity, and community service. The purpose of the program is to further develop the leadership qualities and potential in the class members and to familiarize participants with community needs, opportunities, problems and resources. The program concludes in mid-April in a joint graduation ceremony with members of Leadership Norman.

This year’s program will be co-chaired by Scott Hofmann, BancFirst and Autumn McMahon, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma. Scott is a graduate of the 2006 Leadership Norman class, and Autumn is a graduate of the 2011 Leadership Norman class.
Chartered in 1990, Tomorrow’s Leaders is entering its twenty-second year. For more information on Tomorrow’s Leaders or any of the Chamber’s three Leadership Programs, contact Erica Millar at 321-7260, or email

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Christine Frank at (405) 325-4844 or Kathleen Kennedy at (405) 587-0224 NORMAN – To increase high school graduation rates and improve college readiness, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Public Schools have been awarded a seven-year, $26 million grant from the U. S. Department of Education, OU President David Boren announced today, noting that 21 new jobs will be created as part of the project. “The awarding of this grant is great news for the entire state,” Boren said. “It will give the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City Public School District a chance to create a model for ways for OU to help public education across our state.” The GEAR UP for PROMISE (Promotion of Readiness through Opportunities that Motivate and Increase Student Expectations) project will directly benefit more than 4,500 sixth- and seventh-grade students in 10 low-income urban schools within the Oklahoma City Public School district, including Centennial, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, John Marshall, Northeast, Rogers, Roosevelt, Taft and Webster middle schools. Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer, said, “This collaboration provides an opportunity for the largest school district in the State of Oklahoma and the flagship university to work together to dramatically increase high school graduation and college readiness on behalf of children over the next seven years.” Gregg Garn, director of the K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal and interim dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at OU, said, “It is really exciting to think about getting more kids prepared for and into higher education settings. The opportunity to affiliate with Oklahoma City Public Schools in this process further strengthens the relationship between the OU and Oklahoma City Public Schools.” The project seeks to better prepare urban students for college by increasing the ability for students to meet established performance levels in math, science, literacy and technology. The program also hopes to help students and their families understand education options for college, including preparation and financing. “GEAR UP presents a wonderful opportunity for students in Oklahoma City Public Schools to prepare for college and their chosen career beyond. GEAR UP’s focus on minority and first-generation college students is a wonderful match for Oklahoma City Public Schools students, and we look forward to the partnership with the University of Oklahoma,” said Angela Monson, chairman of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education.

Uny Chan/The Oklahoma Daily

Ronald Reagan Elementary School, which will open next year on 24th Avenue Southeast, will split a school day in half to immerse students in a new language. Kindergarten and first grade students will study mathematics and science in French for half a day and learn language and social studies in English.

The idea is modeled after the Canadian and continental European system. Students will have a chance to study some subjects in a non-English language instead of typically learning new languages in a separate class.

“We choose to teach math and science in French because they are concrete facts,” said Janet Gorton, Norman Public Schools world language director. “Hence, it will cause less confusion among our young students.”

Oklahoma signed an educational partnership with the Académie d’Amiens in France in 2007. The OU College of Education and the Université de Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France have developed an exchange for pre-service teachers.

“The exchange between the [college of education] and the [French university] offers non-native speakers an opportunity not only to work on their French language skills, but to learn how French classrooms work from the inside, observe classroom management and learn specialized vocabulary,” said Jennifer Robinson, adviser for the college’s Global Educations program.

Teachers interested in the program will have to be fluent in French and must hold an Oklahoma teaching certificate in early childhood or elementary education, Robinson said. The requirement applies to native English and French speakers.

Former Honorary Consul of France to Oklahoma Barbara Thompson approached Norman Public Schools about starting an immersion school last year. The public schools may receive more languages thanks to support from French Consul General Pierre Grandjouan, who pledged to add more languages using the immersion model.

The first graduating class will take 50 students in from the Reagan district. Norman Public Schools is currently working on the application process. The immersion courses will begin when Ronald Reagan Elementary School opens next year.


Additional Information

An information session will take place from 3 to 4:30pm, on Sept. 6, Tuesday, during the International Education week at JRCoE for those who are interested in this program.

The Norman Transcript

Sun Aug 28, 2011, 01:54 AM CDT

NORMAN — When Ronald Reagan Elementary opens on 24th Avenue Southeast about this time next year, it will have a decidedly French twist. It will be Norman Public Schools’ first language immersion school. One kindergarten class and one first grade class will spend half of the day immersed in the French language.

Math and science will be taught in French. Language and Social Studies will be taught in English. It’s a great fit with kindergarten and first grade since their academic knowledge is at a basic level, just like their language.

Most of the approximately 50 slots will be open to students who live in the Reagan district and a few seats will likely be available to students who desire to transfer into the new school and learn French language and culture. With no boundaries set and no indication of parents’ choice, school officials say they will be developing a selection criteria in coming months.

The immersion concept is patterned after the European and Canadian models where children are introduced to languages other than those spoken at home. Lawmakers in Utah, seeing the economic development benefits, have mandated immersion goals. If the students are successful, Norman could add additional immersion sites with other languages.

“Children up to the age of about 10 to 12, when they learn a second language, it is actually stored in the same part of the brain and it moves over when they become adults,” said Janet Gorton, NPS world language coordinator. “Younger children are the easiest to teach. They learn it much like they learn their native language.”

The students will stay together through elementary school, most likely with different teachers. If a student leaves Reagan, another one could transfer in if they were language proficient.

Teachers have yet to be identified but Gorton says she expects to have many candidates. The district is working with the OU College of Education which has a partnership with a French teachers college. Teachers must be proficient in language and also certified in early child development. The program’s goal, beyond language proficiency, is that students meet all of the district’s academic goals.

Sherry Cox, OU assistant dean in the College of Education, said two potential teaching candidates have been identified. One is a native French speaker and the other was a French major who switched to the College of Education. She said the program is unique in that teachers must be certified as well as proficient in language and culture.

“We’re trying to homegrow our teachers. You’re teaching the content to the students, not just the language,” she said.

The partial day immersion came out of a global awareness thinking process.

“It’s a great idea for Norman but it was in the dream category,” Cox said. “Dr. (Superintendent Joe) Siano saw the beauty of it. In the globalized society that we have now, there is a need for these type of programs,” Cox said.

Gorton said Tulsa schools have an immersion project in French and Jenks schools have a Chinese program.

“We found that, from talking to everyone, one of the challenges is making sure you have the proper staff,” Gorton said.

By going the way of partial immersion, teachers can use English to reinforce concepts learned in French. Students will also learn the French culture.

“You can’t learn language without learning culture,” she said. “Students love cultures of the world.”

Norman currently teaches courses in Spanish, French, Latin and Chinese. She senses excitement building for the program at Reagan.

“I think what’s really great is to have a district, at a time when finances can be challenging, to go out there and do something that’s really progressive.”

Andy Rieger


The Norman Transcript

Sun Jul 31, 2011, 05:01 AM CDT

NORMAN — Former Monroe Elementary School principal Gracie Branch is the Oklahoma Association of Elementary School Principals’ new executive director.

Branch will be responsible for professional development for Oklahoma’s elementary administrators. She also will provide support to elementary school administrators through site visits, regional and national conferences and with state and national legislative advocacy.

The elementary principals’ association is a branch of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. Steven Crawford, the council’s executive director, announced Branch’s appointment on Thursday.

“Dr. Gracie Branch possesses the ethics and professionalism requisite of any accomplished school administrator,” he said. “Her style of servant leadership will be an excellent example for all of Oklahoma’s elementary school principals.”

Branch was Monroe’s principal for the past six years. She also had taught in Norman for 20 years and Little Axe for two years, was an assistant principal in the Putnam City School District and coordinator for National Board Certification in Oklahoma.

“I am excited to be working closely with school principals from across the state to achieve high professional standards and best practices for Oklahoma schools,” Branch stated in the release. “I feel my 32 years in education serve as a solid foundation to carry out the responsibilities of a CCOSA administrator.”

A group of twenty-eight corporations and educational institutions has announced the launch of a $20 million initiative to help prepare 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next decade.

Announced last week during the CGI America conference, the effort is a response to President Barack Obama’s call for changes in how the country prepares students to address the most pressing global challenges. To that end, 100Kin10 aims to create a funding base that will support as many as one hundred innovative programs focused on developing and/or retaining outstanding math and science teachers.

Funded by a total of $8.5 million in commitments from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the NewSchools Venture Fund, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the initial phase of the project will focus on the first three years and twenty thousand teachers. Carnegie, which is coordinating the effort, also is working with the U.S. Department of Education to leverage additional federal funds for the effort.

As part of the initiative, the New Teacher Project and the National Math and Science Initiative will work to increase the supply of math and science teachers, while other partners, including Google and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, will focus on retaining “excellent” STEM teachers and Creative Commons and Ashoka’s Changemakers will work to build momentum for the campaign. In addition, GOOD Corps is developing a social media-driven communication portal for organizations involved in achieving the 100Kin10 goal.

“100Kin10 is possible, and our students deserve it,” said Phillip Griffiths, co-chair of Opportunity Equation and professor emeritus of mathematics and former director at the Institute for Advanced Study. “As we outlined in our 2009 Opportunity Equation report, we know how to recruit, train, and retain excellent STEM teachers. If this country’s museums, schools, corporations, education organizations, and other potential partners come forward and commit to action, we will meet our goal.”

“Mobilization Aims Toward 100,000 New, Excellent Math and Science Teachers for Public Schools in Next 10 Years.” Carnegie Corporation of New York Press Release 6/29/11. Primary Subject: Education
Secondary Subject(s): Elementary and Secondary Education, Science/Technology
Location(s): Chicago, Illinois, National


Renewed exchange partnership benefits students, educators

Superintendent Janet Barresi Special to The Sun The Edmond Sun Wed Jun 22, 2011, 06:33 PM CDT

EDMOND — It’s not every day I have the chance to meet face to face with educators and students nearly 5,000 miles away, but that’s exactly what I did last week.

I held a video conference from Oklahoma City with officials with the Académie d’Amiens to renew Oklahoma’s cultural exchange partnership with the regional education agency in northern France.

Académies are the French equivalents of state departments of education in the United States. The Académie d’Amiens includes three smaller divisions in the region of Picardy.

Our new memorandum of understanding marks the fourth year for the agreement, and I was pleased to continue this important partnership.

In the new knowledge economy, our students must be prepared to engage with the rest of the world. As students prepare to compete in the global marketplace, it’s vital that they engage with and understand different perspectives throughout the world. Educators can talk to students about it, but it has more impact when students experience it directly.

Our partnership with Amiens is an essential part of our efforts to rethink how we deliver education. The partnership builds and expands ties between Oklahoma and French educators and students by including student exchanges, group projects between schools, video conferences and online wiki-based collaboration.

Our renewal of the partnership with Amiens was also a great reminder of the dedicated educators we have working in our state and at the Oklahoma Department of Education. Key to organizing the agreement renewal was Desa Dawson, director of world languages for the state department. Dawson has also been honored in France as a Chevalier (a Knight) of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of Academic Palms) an Order of Chivalry for academics and cultural and educational figures. And earlier this year, Dawson was honored by OU’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education in the 2011 Celebration of Education awards.

More information about pairing with a school in Amiens is now available on the State Department of Education’s Website ( under World Languages .  Those interested in learning more can contact Dawson at

or by phone at 521-3035.

JANET BARRESI is state superintendent of public instruction for Oklahoma. She may be reached via her website at

College of Education dean to retire after 16 years

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

College of Education Dean Joan K. Smith speaks during her weekly office meeting Monday morning. (Helen Grant/The Daily)

The first woman to hold the position of Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education dean has announced she will retire this summer.

Joan K. Smith is nearing her 16th year as dean and will return to teaching and research after she officially retires June 30.

“I think there is a point where you need to bring new energy into administration and into leadership,” Smith said. “It’s been a good 16 years for me and when I looked around after the dedication of the renovation in the new wing and I thought about where everything was at this point in time and I thought…this is a really good time to turn it over.”

Smith is an educational studies professor and will continue her work after stepping down from her administrative position. She is currently teaching a graduate course on qualitative research, she said.

“Dean Smith is a strong advocate for education and has worked diligently toward improving education and standards,” Julie Comer, Smith’s secretary for the past 13 years, said. “Not only is Dean Smith a dedicated educator, but she’s a lady of character.”

Smith arrived at the university in August of 1995.

Prior to being appointed dean of the Rainbolt College, she served as a graduate school associate dean and as a faculty member at Loyola University in Chicago for 14 years, she said.

Smith sees herself as a leader who involves the faculty and students as much as she can. She takes great pride in the quality of the students and faculty in the Rainbolt College, she said.

“I think that over the 16 years the caliber of our student body has increased tremendously and they are dedicated for what they’re doing and those who are going into teaching will make excellent teachers,” Smith said.

Smith has made her students’ experiences at OU as meaningful as they can be, university spokesman Chris Shilling said.

“She has been fantastic,” Shilling said. “Any time a student has expressed concerns with classes or courses I have been able to go to her and talk about the issues and she has gone above and beyond to help.”

Smith has overseen an increase in scholarship money available from the Rainbolt College in her time as dean. When Smith took her post, the college had under $20,000 of scholarship money available and now has over $100,000 available, she said.

“I think that will become more and more important because the costs of higher education don’t go down and it will be important to be able to continue to support students through scholarships,” Smith said.

Smith has participated in many national societies and professional associations, she said.

She served as Board of Examiners chair for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and is a past president of both the state’s Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and the Council of Academic Deans from Research Education Institutions, according to the Rainbolt College website.

Smith has been a great public servant to the university, Shilling said.

Smith said her successor will be chosen by OU President David Boren. An interim dean will likely be put in place for about a year and a national search will take place, Smith said.

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