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Another Change at Chiefs for Change

November 7, 2012

In August, Florida Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson resigned unexpectedly amid criticisms of that state’s education reforms. Yesterday, Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett lost his bid for re-election. They are a part of the group Chiefs for Change, which – depending on your perspective – either represents leads the reform efforts in nine states.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi also belongs to this group. Coincidentally, she touts Florida and Indiana at every turn for their reforms. It turns out people aren’t happy with these reforms.

A lot of the narrative in 2010 was that Barresi won her office in Oklahoma because of the state’s distaste for President Obama. If this is true (and I doubt that it is; she simply ran a better campaign) we should note that Indiana was the first state the networks called for Mitt Romney last night.

Even in a red state, people like their public schools. They like the relationships they cultivate with the people who work there. Teachers – to borrow a phrase – are people, my friend! In Oklahoma – a state in which Obama has never won a county – local communities pass bond issues and continue supporting their local school districts. We hate taxes, but we want great schools.

Oklahoma will have a choice to make in two years. While I stated earlier this week that I’m not going to get into endorsements on this blog, I think we all know I’ll be looking for a better candidate. In district after district around this state, parents and community members are listening to their administrators and coming to an understanding that the SDE’s approach to school reform isn’t improving anything.

In two years, they’ll be looking for a better candidate too.

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