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Millions in school turnaround dollars attract "carpetbaggers"

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The New York Times ran an article this week about all the make-shift companies crawling out of the woodwork, labeling themselves as school turnaround experts, and bidding for a piece of the $3.5 billion allocated to school improvement this year.

Three school districts in Oklahoma received a chunk of that school turn-around change: Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Crutcho public schools.

Oklahoma City went with a company that top administrators said was tried and true: Marzano Research Laboratory. The district has partnered with the Indian-based company before on projects and said it was pleased.

Tulsa Public Schools requested proposals from companies to serve as “a lead turnaround partner.” The bid solicitation closes on August 17, 2010. It will be interesting to see how many companies experienced and inexperienced respond to the nation-wide search.

“We believe it is to our advantage to survey the market on any of our purchases,” said Linda Phillips, director of materials management for Tulsa Public Schools.   

There was also an interesting Oklahoma tie in the NYT article.

Quoted in the article was former Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent John Q. Porter, who according to the article was hired in March to run Mosaica Turnaround Partners. The New York Times article read:

Mr. Porter said he attended a vendor fair at Ohio State University in June that had been organized to introduce dozens of new companies and nonprofits to districts preparing school turnarounds.

“It was like a cattle call,” Mr. Porter said. “No, actually it was more like speed dating.”

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