Jay Chilton | March 3, 2017

OKC charter school earns Character Award

Jay Chilton


By Jay Chilton, CIJ

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Dove Science Academy Charter School, near the corner of NW 23rd Street and Western Avenue in OKC, was recognized as one of six schools to be named Oklahoma Schools of Character by,, and the state Department of Education.

On Friday, Feb. 17, the school held an assembly to celebrate the honor. Several elected leaders representing districts with Dove Science Academy students were invited to attend. Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, offered words of congratulations to the academy and its students.

Pittman thanked Dove Science Academy and its students for their recognition and praised them for the success and good work they have had at the school.

“I want to say to you, that I am so honored and pleased to meet you” she said. “I didn’t know that I would have the opportunity to say thank you publicly.

“When you talk about Dove having the ability to go into the homes of people, and communicate with the students and the parents, that raises the bar for academics.

“(Dove is) a community of people who no longer says that mediocrity will do, that no longer says that just doing okay will suffice.

“You have raised the bar. You have challenged additional schools in this city. Now, you are an OK Character school. Give yourselves a round of applause.”

Sen. Pittman has been a selective advocate of school choice reforms in situations where she believed students would benefit from the reforms. When given the opportunity to vote in the Oklahoma Senate for expansion of charter schools like Dove Science Academy into rural areas of the state during the 2015 legislative session, Pittman voted no once, yes twice, and abstained once.

Floyd, whose district encompasses the school and much of its service area, applauded the success of the school and its students.

“I am so very proud to have this school in my district,” she said. “I want to thank the parents and the friends who support this school and its students, and I want to thank you, the students. I will tell you that you are a school of character and the reason I know that is because I’ve watched this school and I’ve been here many times.

“When your Ethics Bowl team came up on the stage, every one of you supported your classmates. Every one of you clapped and were genuinely happy and proud of your team. That’s what character is about, supporting each other, supporting your classmates and supporting your family, your school, your state. So, I am indeed proud to be here today with you all.”

Floyd read a citation of congratulations from the Oklahoma Senate, before she and Sen. Pittman presented it to the school.

Sen. Floyd has a record of opposition to school choice reforms. In 2015, she was afforded three opportunities to vote on the charter school expansion bill, which allows schools like Dove in all 77 counties of the state rather than only Oklahoma County and Tulsa County. She voted “no” each time.

CIJ asked Floyd, following the assembly, for comment on the discrepancy between her support for Dove Science Academy―a public charter school ―and the creation of similar charter schools in the less urban areas of the state outside of her district.

“It’s not that it’s good for the urban areas and not good for the rural areas,” she said. “Charter schools definitely have a place in the education system in Oklahoma.

“That being said, we’ve got to make sure that our public schools and our charter schools all work together and fit together.

“When you see some of the charter school bills that go through the legislature, some of them need work. And, it’s not that I oppose charter schools, I actually, I support charter schools. I’m on the Board of Directors for a charter school, Seeworth Academy. I’m actually a founding member of the charter school, it’s for at-risk youth, and it’s been in the Oklahoma City area for years and years. So, I truly believe that there is a place for both and public education schools, they just need to fit together.

“Some of the bills simply do not take that into account. Some of the bills, some of the legislation that has been proposed does not, help the charter school community and public school community to work together.”

Jay Chilton

Independent Journalist

Jay Chilton is a multiple-award-winning photojournalist including the Oklahoma Press Association’s Photo of the Year in 2013. His previous service as an intelligence operative for the U.S. Army, retail and commercial sales director, oil-field operator and entrepreneur in three different countries on two continents and across the U.S. lends a wide experience and context helping him produce well-rounded and complete stories. Jay’s passion is telling stories. He strives to place the reader in the seat, at the event, or on the sideline allowing the reader to experience an event through his reporting. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma with a minor in photographic arts. Jay and his wife live in Midwest City with three dogs and innumerable koi enjoying frequent visits from their children.

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