Q&A with William F. Shdeed

William F. Shdeed has served as a member of the Oklahoma City University Board of Trustees since 1987 and as Chairman from 1999 to 2010. He has been elected as Chairman Emeritus of the University. He has an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Oklahoma City University and received the 2010 Special Award of Merit from the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. During Shdeed’s life as a lawyer, he has contributed to the civic life of Oklahoma City, serving on the Boards of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, YMCA Camp Classen, Integris Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Institute, the Integris Baptist Medical Center Foundation, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, and the Downtown Rotary Club.

Education Focus: What is public education’s biggest challenge?
William Shdeed:
“Providing quality education for children.”

EF: What do you think the biggest difference is today in public education compared to when you were in high school?
“I graduated from Northwest Classen High School in 1957. At that time, we had neighborhood schools, and technology was not developed as it is today. The distribution of information has changed dramatically. In 1957, teachers’ salaries were more in line with other fields. Today, teachers’ salaries lag behind. There is more money spent on administration than when I was in school. The money spent on administration has grown disproportionately to teachers’ salaries.”

EF: During your time on the State School Board, what has been the most inspiring achievement you’ve seen in a public school?
“I have enjoyed working with a great independent Board to improve public education.”

EF: What do you think has been the State Board’s biggest accomplishment during your term?
“Keep in mind, it was mandated that we grade schools A through F, and we have students pass certain tests to graduate. Over objections, we passed the grading system and the test system.”

EF: What will be the most significant changes in public education in the next 5-10 years?
“We should improve the schools through technology. The class size rules should be enforced, especially in lower grades. There should not be as many waivers on class size. The class size rules have been watered down too much. This is not fair to teachers and students.”

EF: “Public education is going through a great deal of change via a number of different reforms. Is there a reform that you’d like to see that hasn’t been broached?
“We have passed grading of schools and testing of students to graduate. The governor has recommended that we look at the overhead of administration. Over 20 years ago, the district attorneys reduced their size from 77 to 27. The district attorneys kept all of the 77 courthouses open. This might not be a bad model to look at for education. It’s time for the parents to get involved. They are the ones who have children at risk. Parents need to look at the whole system and ask, ‘Is this is the best they can do?’ We need more money for teachers. Performance pay and training should be looked at.”

EF: If you were a teacher, what subject or grade would you be teaching and why?
“I would be either a high school history or economics teacher. People need to understand where they came from to know where they are going. They also need to understand money and how to manage it.”

EF: Why should we care how our student test scores compare to other countries, especially when our education systems and cultures are so very different?
“The USA is not isolated. If we want to be competitive around the world, our students should be able to pass a test to show they can compete in the world.”

EF: Who was your favored teacher, and why?
“Lloyd Estes. Mr. Estes was admired, loved and respected.”

EF: What piece of technology has advanced education the most?
WS: “
The computer.”


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