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Oklahoma launches tutoring program based on ‘free market tactics’ to improve public education

"A drive towards success is needed for every child with high expectations and innovation," Oklahoma state Superintendent Walters says. The program will include 24/7 on demand tutoring and will have financial incentives for the teachers tutoring the kids. 

Published: November 19, 2023 11:07pm

Oklahoma state Superintendent Ryan Walters announced the largest, most comprehensive tutoring program in the nation that will take a free market approach to learning and education. 

"When we introduced the broadest, most expensive tutoring program in the country, what we said was, 'we want to first of all, recruit the best and brightest tutors and we want to make sure they're incentivized to actually get the performance of the students greatly increased,'" Walters said on the "Just the News, No Noise" TV show. 

The program involves community volunteers, partnership with Varsity Tutors for Schools and competitive salaries for the tutors, according to local media.

In a 2023 report, Oklahoma students ranked 49th in the nation in educational performance, including math and reading proficiency, according to a report cited by The Tulsa World. The newspaper also reported that "The 2023 report found that 58% — up from 56% — of Oklahoma children 3 to 4 years old were not in school and that 19% — up from 15% — of high schoolers did not graduate on time. The report also found that 76% of Oklahoma fourth-graders were not proficient in reading."  

"A drive towards success is needed for every child with high expectations and innovation," Walters said. "We're doing tutoring programs that pay for performance. We're paying teachers based on student outcomes. We are disrupting a system." 

Earlier this month, Walters announced on the social media platform X the tutoring plan which will include 24/7 on demand tutoring and will have growth incentives for the teachers tutoring the kids. 

"ODE [Oklahoma Department of Education] is working with several large districts and districts that currently operate expanded learning grant sites to expand tutoring for students during holiday breaks and will provide a toolkit for community tutors to use with students," the press release reads. "Several in-person and online training options will also be available."

Walters explained in the announcement that this program would come at no extra cost to taxpayers. The program promises an extensive focus on math and literacy skills. 

He also predicted that due to the way this is set up, it will encourage good teachers to sign up and tutor kids who won't slack off. 

"If we pay for performance, two things are going to happen," Walters said. "The first is going to be, you're not going to have people that sign up who aren't really dedicated to student improvement. I mean, if your pay is based on how well the children do and you're a person that's not going to put much effort into it, you're not going to sign up for that gig."

"So first of all, you're going to get high quality folks who want to do it," he continued. "Number two, you're going to continue to have that drive and that laser focus on how kids are performing."

He added that for too long the government has had a socialist stranglehold on education and its time for a change. 

"Systems are funded, kids fail and teachers don't meet the bar that we've asked of them," he said. "And ultimately, the public, the state and the country is worse off for it. So we've got to continue to find free market incentives that we know work."


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