OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla – He’s a father of six, ready to take on a district of 46,000 students in the revolving door that is the Oklahoma City public schools superintendent job.
Rob Neu comes from Federal Way Public Schools in Washington State, a district half the size of OKC. But he says his approach to education will be similar.
His emphasis is preparing students to perform in a global society. Neu told us, “There is a joke. If you speak 3 languages, you’re tri-lingual.
If you speak two, you’re bi-lingual. If you speak one, you’re an American. They have to speak in multiple languages and understand multiple cultures.”
Neu has come under fire recently for overseas trips he took on the taxpayer dollar. More than $90,000 traveling to Europe, China and Australia. He justified them as “critical for student success”. He admits it has the appearance of being excessive. “Yes, they were on taxpayer dollars which was unfortunate. We were going to procure private funding and we did not do that.
“We had committed to the trips. But it was a European study and it was hard work.”
The superintendent has been praised as “an amazing creative thinker who understands the growing challenges of education.”
He admits there have been mistakes made, including a controversial grading system he implemented in his last district. Neu said, “We have to own it, be transparent and make fixes. Often times we try to hide the failures and tell everyone it’s okay. It wasn’t okay. We made some mistakes.”
With a $240,000 salary plus bonuses, there will be likely be little tolerance for mistakes turning around a beleaguered OKC public school district.