Cindy Decker the right choice for the TPS Board of Education District 5
As our public schools grapple with unprecedented state budget constraints and expect more tightening to come in the near future, local board of education members need a clear vision and proven wisdom now more than ever. Cindy Decker has been a valuable addition to Tulsa Public Schools’ board since her appointment last year, and the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s EDPAC is pleased to endorse her for an additional four-year term.
Decker’s qualifications for board service are simply unmatched. A University of California, Berkley-trained economist with two decades of public policy research experience, Decker brings a necessary analytical prowess to the post. Her current day job as director of research and accountability at CAP Tulsa perfectly compliments her board service, affording additional insight into the complex set of factors affecting student outcomes. This data-first approach is a welcome skillset for any organization, even more so when examining such results-driven policy as student testing and teacher effectiveness assessment. The residents of her district can trust that a true professional has the best – and empirically sound – interests of students in mind.
In addition to her impressive résumé, Decker brings to the position the kind of attitude and disposition our community should expect of its board of education members. She is thoughtful, humble and encouraging, and works well with other board members and Superintendent Gist. Most importantly, she cares about education and is in tune to the challenges and opportunities facing public schools across the state. Tulsa needs board members that pay attention to the broader conversations about student achievement, school funding and teacher pay happening in our neighborhoods, at our state capital and in Washington. Decker is a model advocate for Tulsa’s students and educators.
I’m also particularly impressed by Decker’s commitment to education equity and ensuring the success of all Tulsa children. As an urban district with 85 percent of attendees receiving free and reduced-price lunches, Tulsa Public Schools faces very real impediments outside of the classroom to improving the progress and attainment of its students. Decker rightly points out that this group of students is a substantial portion of our future workforce, and their success in life, beginning at a very early age, impacts the future success of our entire community.
Not to be overlooked, Decker and her family are personally invested in the district. With her own children attending Tulsa schools, Decker is active in parent teacher associations and has spent considerable time organizing fundraisers, volunteering as a testing proctor and managing Junior Great Books programs. Aside from the hours spent at her child’s schools, Decker has volunteered as a reading buddy in a high-need middle school, further bolstering her personal commitment to equity.
Districts will certainly face painful choices over the next several years. State budget deficits will force boards of education across Oklahoma to seriously weigh programs and services against available resources. These tough choices will impact students, teachers and the community at large. Cindy Decker, with her credentials, expertise and experience, is best suited to make those choices on behalf of her constituents. She has exceled as a board of education member, and I encourage the voters of her district to keep her in that position.
Marilyn Ihloff is chair of the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s EDPAC and president and owner of Ihloff Salons and Day Spas.