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Policy Disconnect

January 16, 2013

It goes without saying that Oklahoma’s elected officials don’t see eye-to-eye with school leaders on matters of education policy. I’m saying it anyway.

This morning, Todd Garrison tweeted a picture of CCOSA’s legislative goals from the organization’s legislative conference in Oklahoma City. They include full funding of the major reform initiatives underway in this state, better implementation of the A-F Report Cards, streamlining the testing sequence, better salaries for school employees, and more local control.

Several Oklahoma administrators that I follow on Twitter also kept something of a live blog of the conference, with updates and commentary. (If you’re on Twitter, and you haven’t bookmarked #oklaed, you should. I’m trying to get better about using it when I write or link to content. It’s a way to organize the conversation for those of us trying to preserve public education.)

Unfortunately for those of us working in the profession, the legislative agenda is likely to include nothing from CCOSA’s wish list. Instead, it will focus on arming teachers, giving parents a trigger to create charter schools, and expanding the availability of vouchers from to more students.

The SDE is asking for more money, in spite of the fact that Barresi has spent the last 25 months saying her reforms could be implemented within existing resources. The money they want is targeted for programs that schools didn’t ask for and that remove control from locally-elected school boards. Nothing in the proposed budget attends to the years of funding that has been lost by legislative inaction. The paltry sums designated for reading remediation and professional development are nothing compared to the millions to be spent on testing and development of VAM.

This year, more than ever, it is critical for educators and anyone else who cares about Oklahoma continuing to have a great system of public education to be vocal. The legislature and governor need to know what is important to us. Fund what works. Fund what’s required. Quit making new policies that will break the system and listen to parents and school board members.

CCOSA has the right priorities. It’s up to the rest of us to be loud enough that our politicians can’t ignore us.

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