Black women now leading Oklahoma’s largest school districts, making state history

Oklahoma has achieved a significant milestone with the appointment of a new superintendent in Oklahoma City Public Schools. Black women are now concurrently leading the state’s two largest school districts, OKCPS and Tulsa Public Schools for the first time. The newly appointed superintendent, Jamie Polk, assumed the position in OKCPS, succeeding Sean McDaniel.

Ebony Johnson made history by becoming the first Black woman to serve as the superintendent of the Tulsa district, the largest in the state by enrollment. She was initially selected as the interim superintendent in September and later permanently hired in December. Polk expressed eagerness to collaborate with Johnson to enhance the educational experiences and opportunities for students.

According to state data from the 2022-23 school year, the demographics of educators and school leaders in Oklahoma public schools differ significantly from the student population they serve. While 77% of public educators in the state are white, over half of all students belong to racial or ethnic minorities. Ensuring diverse representation in leadership positions is crucial for districts aiming to prioritize equity.

Hiring Black female superintendents marks a poignant moment in a state with a long history of exclusion toward people of color. Karlos Hill, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, emphasized the significance of this achievement given Oklahoma’s historical context. He stressed the importance of acknowledging and addressing past exclusionary practices to promote equity in education.

In Oklahoma City, the appointment of Black female superintendents follows the legacy set by Betty Mason in 1992, who was the first woman and the first African American superintendent to lead OKCPS. Polk acknowledged Mason’s pioneering role and emphasized the district’s commitment to recruiting diverse teachers through initiatives like the “Grow Our Own” program.

Senator George Young, D-Oklahoma City, highlighted the importance of supporting teacher pipeline programs and enhancing teacher pay to create a more inclusive education environment. Young, who represents a historically Black area in northeast Oklahoma City, emphasized the impact of representation in educational leadership on student outcomes and community engagement.

Jamie Polk, a seasoned educator with 25 years of experience in Lawton Public Schools, has transitioned to the role of superintendent in OKCPS. She is praised for her personable leadership style and data-driven problem-solving approach. Ebony Johnson, leading Tulsa Public Schools, faces the challenge of fostering academic improvement amid state education department pressures.

Both Polk and Johnson, in their inaugural superintendent roles, are committed to serving their communities with dedication and embracing the diversity that enriches their districts. Polk expressed her profound honor in accepting the position and reiterated OKCPS’s unwavering dedication to fostering leadership reflective of the diverse communities it serves.

Other articles

Post Image
Education
Unused Millions of Dollars for South Carolina Families’ Grocery Assistance

COLUMBIA — A little over $8 million designated to assist families in purchasing …

Read More
Post Image
Education
MSU-Meridian’s Interprofessional Simulation Program Receives Provisional Accreditation, Ready for Student Use in Fall

The Interprofessional Simulation Program at MSU-Meridian has received provisiona …

Read More
Post Image
Education
Top 10 Studies Essential for Every Teacher

In the realm of education, our insights into effective classroom practices have …

Read More