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More Topics Than Time

August 22, 2012

This week, it seems that every time I turn around, somebody is saying something that makes me want to write. With all apologies to Ann Romney, what’s wrong with “you people”? I have to work, you know. So I’m going to throw a few thoughts out here and hopefully have more time to write a little bit later this week.

Oklahoma’s conservative think tank and proud ALEC cheerleader OCPA has been promoting two articles repeatedly on Twitter. The first is critical of Oklahoma City Public Schools staffing decisions and declares that equity is merely a road to mediocrity. Such logic ignores the fact that OKCPS is increasing in enrollment while all school districts in the state continue to see less funding. The second is being continuously retweeted with the message that “The intellectual debate over the broad principles of education reform is over.” This is a great tactic in political rhetoric: plug your ears and make sure your opponents know you’re not listening. The fact is that education reform proponents do not engage their opponents in intellectual discussion. OCPA has been playing the same “Public Schools Are Bad” song on a continuous loop since their inception almost 20 years ago. They have not spent the time in the classroom with students to know what teachers do every day. They have not logged the hours in professional development, meeting with parents, planning, and grading papers. They smugly criticize a profession that gets beat up in the media, and the only reason to pay attention to them is that for some reason, the state’s largest newspaper takes them seriously. What they say has an audience, and that is unfortunate.

Meanwhile, both the Oklahoman and the Tulsa World reported on the 2012 release of ACT scores. And Superintendent Barresi had her say as well. As the graphic below shows, Oklahoma students are in the middle of other states in the region for ACT performance. Composite scores are relatively flat over time.

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What the numbers don’t show is the fact that Oklahoma has one of the highest percentage of students taking the ACT. That affects performance of the whole. And while Barresi is right to want to see improvement, but her quest for more rigor in science is going to be thwarted by this state’s intent to bury its head in the sand and continue down the path of developing standards in isolation – and by ignoring actual science.

At least the Muskogee Phoenix has it right. Something has to be done about the path of destruction that the current occupants of the legislature are cutting through public education.

In other news, Barresi is planning a media briefing for tomorrow on the timeline for the release of A-F Report Cards. I posted that over the weekend. You can read the instructions they sent out to school districts here. And you can save yourself the time and just pull from any of a number of prior quotes on how parents understand letters better than numbers, and how we need to learn math better in this state. Or something like that.

In Prague, a girl said hell and people got pissy about it.

I started keeping track of the number of districts who have passed resolutions saying that we need to stop the insanity of standardized testing, and suddenly, I got a lot of attention from other states too. And my number is way off. Melissa Abdo tells me at least 83 Oklahoma districts have passed some version of this resolution. In response, Barresi has pretty much said so what?

It’s only Wednesday, and I’m tired. School has started, and there’s a lot going on. Between now and [SPOILER ALERT] the first week in October, when the A-F Report Cards finally come out, I think we’re all going to be flat-out exhausted.

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  1. August 23, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Another great post! Thanks for all your work – online and in your school. This post reminds me that we’re losing at whack-a-mole, and it’s just our collective future that’s at stake. Every morning I think I should just keep my mouth shut but maybe not today – there’s so much that needs to be said in defense of educators and other school leaders. But, now it’s time to get the kids up for another day at a great Oklahoma public school! Thanks again for continuing to shine a light.

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  2. August 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for your time and you aren’t the only one short on time, energy, and much to say. The legislation in Florida that tied test scores to teacher evals was invalidated by a procedural judge yesterday and kids leaving private to public schools have zero credit for courses because no alternative assessments are allowed, only public EOCs. It is chaotic everywhere and the more we know aboutmwhatnis happening in other places, the better off we all are.

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