The State Board of Education rolled through its agenda today. There were more public comments from educators and parents delineating the problems with the A-F Report Cards. Rep. Jason Nelson expressed an interest in understanding just how much carryover schools need at the start of the school year (hint: read state statute and this editorial from an actual superintendent).
The main attraction today, however, was the vote to move forward with the A-F Report Cards. While I was prepared for the SBE to proceed as if nothing had happened and approve the report cards, I did not anticipate the tongue-lashing that followed. In succession, board members Baxter, Price, and Shdeed let critics of the process have it. Check out the summary from Oklahoma Capitol Source.
Probably worst of the bunch was Baxter, who told superintendents that the state was 47th when he got here. This is insulting on a couple of levels. First is that 47th is the current rank of school funding in the state. Second is the insinuation that the professional educators are the ones who have broken schools.
None of the board members seem to believe that adequacy of funding matters. And none understand that poverty matters. Schools work hard to overcome the obstacles of both. And they are issues that have to be overcome each year with a new group of students. Of course, serving a more affluent student population is no guarantee of an A; nor is an A a guarantee that the school is doing a great job.
(By the way, the school that was doing such an awful job educating Barresi’s sons that she had to open a charter school…got an A.)
In spite of the board’s insistence to the contrary, the input of educators and the general public was not heeded. As a result, even Governor Fallin proposed a third methodology for calculating grades yesterday.
The only truth this whole mess has revealed is that any system of accountability is entirely subjective. The SDE has decided what data to use and how heavily to weigh each component in the formula. On the SDE brochure issued today, Barresi suggests that parents ask what the school intends to do to raise the grade. I sincerely hope that somewhere in Oklahoma, someone has the nerve to say, “We’re going to help students. If the grade comes up, it comes up. That’s not our focus.”