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Getting Smart Podcast

May 9, 2018

The Getting Smart team takes a digital trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma to take a look at their vibrant education community.


In 1998, Oklahoma passed a law providing free access to pre-kindergarten. Since then, families in Tulsa have benefited from leading-edge programs, supported by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Schusterman Family Foundation. Improvement and talent development efforts are coordinated by ImpactTulsa; a regional non-profit.


In this episode, Tom speaks with Kathy Seibold, Executive Director at ImpactTulsa, and Jessica Smith, Director of Early Learning at Impact Tulsa. Also joining the conversation is Sophia Pappas, who led Early Learning in New York City before joining the Kaiser Family Foundation to advance early learning in Tulsa. The three experts discuss the expanding access to programs and ongoing efforts to improve quality — including building the capacity of early learning teachers.


Listen in to learn more about early learning in Tulsa with Tom, Kathy, Jessica, and Sophia.


Key Takeaways:

[1:27] About ImpactTulsa efforts as a member of the Strive Together Network.

[3:10] About Jessica’s work as the Director of Early Learning at ImpactTulsa.

[4:18] How Oklahoma’s law of providing free preschool for all children for all four-year-olds came to pass.

[5:58] About Sophia’s background in early learning and how she got to her position in Tulsa.

[8:10] Where Kaiser’s commitment to early learning came from.

[9:03] About Kaiser’s early learning focus on children from pre-conception through age eight.

[11:22] How this comprehensive early learning manages to work with the funding provided.

[13:18] The Kaiser Family Foundation’s investment agenda — how do they invest and what do they focus on?

[15:18] About Tulsa’s scaling and their continuous improvement model.

[18:00] What does good early learning look like?

[21:54] Their views and strategies for improving the quality of home-based childcare.

[23:35] Would Jessica like to see an even higher percentage of children in quality preschool?

[24:11] What would be a good goal for a community to achieve (in terms of the percentage of children attending pre-k)? More about ImpactTulsa’s upcoming initiatives and efforts to spread the message of the value of pre-k.

[26:07] Sophia’s and Kathy’s views on strategies to train and compensate early childhood workers and teachers.

[30:31] If a community came on a field trip to Tulsa, where would Kathy take them to learn more?

[31:20] If an advocate in another community were thinking about where to get started, what advice would Sophia give them?

[32:44] Online resources Sophia recommends to those who want to learn more.

[34:02] More about the CAP Tulsa program and Tom’s talk with Steven Dow, CAP Tulsa’s Executive Director.


Mentioned in This Episode:

George Kaiser Family Foundation

Birth Through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST)

Schusterman Family Foundation


Strive Together Network
Teach for America

University of Oklahoma

Tulsa Community College

Center on the Developing Child (Harvard University)

National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)

Child Trends

CAP Tulsa


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