Continuing A Pattern
After reading the editorial in the Oklahoman this morning, I began to write a post titled, “In Defense of Superintendents II.” Then I got interrupted and told myself I would finish it at lunch. Then life happened and this was postponed until the end of the day.
This time, the paper is critical of incoming Jenks superintendent Stacey Butterfield for appearing at a press conference:
“It is time to stop playing politics with our children’s lives.”
Those are the words of incoming Jenks Superintendent Stacey Butterfield, delivered at a news conference Wednesday to oppose tax cuts and support greater education funding. Her comments might carry more weight had she not delivered them standing next to a Democratic candidate for state schools superintendent at an event convened by hyperpartisan members of the House Democratic caucus. Decrying politics at a blatantly political event doesn’t build nonpartisan credibility.
The paper’s premise is flawed on multiple levels. First, this group was brought together to fight for school funding. Butterfield wasn’t there to lend support to Anderson or any other candidate. Inman wasn’t there to call out Republicans. This was a press conference, not a partisan rally. Second, I know many superintendents in Oklahoma, and I would guess more of them are Republicans than not. Third, while the paper goes on to call for “a refund on that day’s paycheck” for administrators who attended the rally, they are probably less inclined to do so when Superintendent Barresi attends campaign events for Jeb Bush’s friends out-of-state.
Something I wrote in my January post bears repeating:
Again I should point out that the husband of Superintendent Barresi’s one-time chief-of-staff writes editorials for the Oklahoman. I should also point out that as chief-of-staff, she caught a lot of grief for calling certain Tulsa-area superintendents dirtbags. When the Oklahoman writes a piece out of the blue slamming two superintendents that aren’t even in its main service area, the motives have to be questioned.
Even when Barresi is asking the legislature for more funding for schools, she’s doing so while complaining that schools don’t know what they’re doing and insisting that money doesn’t fix anything. School superintendents do not have a Republican leader in this state who appears receptive to the idea of funding schools adequately.
The Oklahoman knows this. They also know that school funding is down, while enrollment is up. They choose to be on the side of the narrative that blames the schools for this – as well as for anything else they can find. And for some reason (spite, maybe?), they have decided to pile on to an incoming superintendent before she officially starts the job. Fortunately for schools and the communities they serve, fewer and fewer people are falling for the rhetoric of corporate reformers and their propaganda machines. And fortunately for Butterfield, Jenks Public Schools is used to being targeted.