Springer reflects on career, testing, and teachers

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- As Oklahoma City Schools welcomed students this week, the district is preparing to say goodbye to their superintendent. Karl Springer came to Oklahoma City in 2008 and says the children of this district have always been his top priority.

Springer sat down with us today to talk about his time in Oklahoma City and his overall career in education.

Springer said, "I can't imagine being anything other than an educator. It is the best job."

A job Springer is giving up for retirement. A job he's proud to have held.

As for the future of this urban district he says there will always be challenges. The biggest challenge for Oklahoma City he says is improving academics and focusing on children.

Springer said, "I think sometimes in our state politics get in the way of the children and we need to continue to focus back on what's best for kids."

It's something he says he tried as superintendent to do.

Springer said, "Our children have been the center of every decision we've made."

Decisions like switching from a traditional to a continuous learning calendar. He says teacher retention is always a challenge and will continue to be one unless teacher salaries can be increased.

Springer said, "There's no job that's more important in society than being a teacher."

He said, "They are not paid anywhere near what they should be paid. It really is a calling."

Springer has seen a lot of changes in the district . Many of the projects and renovations were funded with "Maps For Kids" money. One of those projects was Cesar Chavez Elementary, the school where we met for our interview.

Springer said, "I think in the long run the biggest impact is that kids understand we care about them."

He says it's been a blessing to hold this position and to in some way have had an impact on the lives of students.

Springer said, "I can't believe society is so perfect that they would have something called a school where people are paid to teach other people's children."

Springer says he plans to take a break and then continue to work in education in some capacity. He says he wants to be an advocate for students and this district but do so as a private citizen.

Springer said, "There's no job that's more important in society than being a teacher."

Springer hopes moving forward our state will take a closer look at improving standardized testing.

Springer said, "We're taking six weeks of our school year and devoting it to testing. That's way too much time."

He says with testing so early students are often losing out on education they could be getting in the last few weeks of school.

Springer said, "The testing happens in March and April and there's a collective sigh at the beginning of May. That's wrong. We need every single day of instruction for these kids."

He hopes the State Board of Education and legislators will look at what can be done to make the system more efficient. He says it may come down to pressing testing companies to go by the schools schedule rather than the school catering to the testing company.

Springer said, "It needs to be based on what's best for children. What's best for children would be those tests to be two weeks before the end of the school year."

He says there's been a lot of change due to reforms from the state superintendent and while those reforms are good he says they may have been implemented a little too quickly.

As for plans for his future, Springer says a run for state superintendent is not likely.

He said, "For sure, I am not going to be running for any elected office."

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