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Call Your Legislators

May 20, 2012

According to Article V, Section 26 of the Oklahoma Constitution, regular sessions of the Legislature shall be “adjourned sine die not later than five o’clock p.m. on the last Friday in May of each year.” That gives us five days to focus on several unresolved issues affecting public education. While most of the attention will be focused on taxes and budgeting – as it should be – there are other critical issues to which those of us who support the work of professional educators should pay attention. 

One thing we should watch – and try to influence – is the A-F Report Card rules. While Governor Fallin and Superintendent Barresi insist this to be settled policy, an increasing number of legislators are listening to the phone calls, letters, and emails they are receiving from educators, parents, and community members.

In this article, Superintendent Barresi claims that the resistance to the rules was a last minute “red herring.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It bears repeating that the first draft of the rules were written in seclusion by a small group of high-level SDE staffers with limited teaching experience. Comments to the proposed rules were then made at a spring break hearing that nobody in a decision-making capacity at the SDE attended. They sent tape recorders instead.

The State Board of Education – which has been replaced in its entirety by the governor within the last 15 months – was split on approving the rules (which, to the SDE’s credit, had been slightly modified based on the content they received). Passing only 4-2 by the hand-picked board, the rules went to the governor for approval.

Before the governor could sign the rules, Representative Mike Shelton filed a resolution in committee to have the rules overturned. The resolution passed out of committee 9-1 and will be heard by the whole house. There is a groundswell of support among legislators to make the SDE go back to the drawing board. 

This is where we all play a part. The opposition is not a red herring. It’s a legitimate response to the sloppy, opaque manner in which the A-F rules were written. Politicians and the media will be paying a lot of attention to taxes this week. We need to remind them that we still want the A-F rules overturned. We should probably do it daily.  Call or email your local House and Senate members. Let them know you appreciate them and would like them to vote against the rules.

 

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