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Oklahoman: Meet Context

July 8, 2012

Leave it to the Oklahoman to take a quote from an Oklahoma school superintendent out of context and use it as the foundation for a diatribe against those who oppose certain reforms. Today’s gem comes from an editorial written at the expense of Lloyd Snow from Sand Springs. Snow spoke recently at a State Board of Education meeting and pointed out that “other states are beginning to turn the clock back” on high-stakes testing. They claim that Snow “wants to move the state backward [emphasis theirs]” and that people like snow “wish for the standards-free good ol’ days when the living was easy for administrators.”

There are many problems with this characterization. First is that Snow does not suggest moving the state backwards. He says that as we have followed other states deeper into the high-stakes testing morass, we should probably note that many of those states are now in full or partial retreat. Nor does Snow – or any other superintendent I’ve talked with – promote going to the time before standards. In all honesty, few administrators remain from before the days of PASS. For the vast majority of educators in this state, a profession with content standards is all we’ve ever known. Besides, of all the reforms being implemented in this state right now, the one getting the least resistance is the transition to the Common Core State Standards.

I’m also not sure what the Oklahoman means by “when the living was easy for administrators.” Maybe they’re referring to years past when all state mandates were fully funded. Oh wait – that’s never happened. Perhaps they mean prior to January 2011 when the state had a superintendent who ran an agency full of professional educators with some capacity to understand what it meant to spend every day of your contract year working with children. We didn’t appreciate them then, but in retrospect, those were some pretty good times.

The editorial goes on to use statistics out of context to continue their obsession with Tulsa-area districts that get in trouble for refusing to sit down and shut up. They state that there have only been 120 appeals so far out of more than 39,000 seniors in the class of 2012. While that may be accurate, they fail to mention that more than 2,000 students have been denied diplomas under the ACE requirements.

The piece ends with more vitriol towards Snow, who the paper insists was disappointed that so many of his students succeeded. It also warns against wishing we still lived in 1960 – which Snow is hardly doing. That point, however, is probably good to remember the next time the Oklahoman yearns for simpler times in some other regard.

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