After the Fall
It’s been a hell of a week, people. I had to take a couple of days off from writing even.
The SDE had an unveiling planned for the current iteration of the A-F Report Cards on Monday. Then the State Board of Education did something completely unexpected: listen to the public. Yes, General Baxter made it clear that he didn’t want anybody saying anything wasn’t fair.
What followed was a series of remarks by parents, administrators, and even a charter school sponsor. They laid out a rational argument for why the release should be delayed. They didn’t get emotional. They explained the shortcomings of the grading system in a very clear way. The SBE voted unanimously to delay the release and asked for more calculations.
Then the fun started.
Barresi literally wagged one finger in the face of a state board member, then figuratively waved a different one at them all. After the A-F Debutante Ball had been cancelled, the SDE sent an email out to superintendents saying release them anyway.
Never mind that the governor and legislators from both parties issued statements saying that the delay was a good idea. The Tulsa World liked it. Predictably, the Oklahoman did not. In another editorial written by the husband of Barresi’s former Chief of Staff, the paper decries this injustice being heaped upon parents. The nerve! The audacity!
Tuesday, the SDE said that school districts had the authority to release the grades all along. The embargo was only a suggestion. Judge for yourself. Here’s a paragraph from the SDE’s email to superintendents in August:
Please note, because the information is embargoed and has not been verified, this preliminary data will not be released to the public until after all school districts have been provided with an appropriate opportunity for review, as detailed in the rules adopted by the State Board of Education earlier this year. The information will be released publicly in the form of final A-F School Grading System report cards in early October, after districts across the state have had the opportunity to review data and after the data has been verified. Because this information is embargoed, preliminary and unverified, the State Department of Education is also requesting that districts not release the unverified data or preliminary information to the public until after report cards have been unveiled publicly to the state in early October.
The SDE was ready to move forward. They were not prepared to be delayed. I myself was completely shocked. Taking a moment to pause, most districts opted to wait.
Even so, a few districts have gone ahead and released their grades. I imagine they’ve also released the 32 page guide to help parents decipher exactly what they’re looking at.
Maybe next time, the guide will include a good definition of the word wait.