Lloyd Snow Hall of Fame Speech 8/2/13
I am late in posting this. Sand Springs Superintendent Lloyd Snow was inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame August 2nd, and a friend of his forwarded me a copy of the speech he gave. I am given to understand that he may have gone off-script a time or two, but for the most part, what you see below is the speech as he delivered it. As this school year begins for so many, please keep in mind his years of wisdom, as well as his warning for the future:
|I am flattered. I am honored. I am humbled. When I was a kid I saw a turtle on a fence post and wondered What-How-Who? Tonight I feel a little like that turtle.
To be seen as a Leader among Giants in our profession like–Dr. Oliver—Dr. Raburn—Sandy Garrett—Marvin Stokes and the distinguished list of previous Hall of Famers. Wow.
To be an inducted along with great friend Steven Crawford. This will always be a special moment and memory.
No question my journey has been blessed with loving-talented-dedicated family, colleagues, and friends. First and foremost is the love of my life- my beautiful wife- Tresa-my soul mate – my energy source. Most of you in this room know—-she is truly the one that should be inducted tonight! Secondly, children and grandchildren who give me so much joy.
Our Son Joshua wife Emily and children Easton, Kirby and Kyrtleigh. Our Son Gabriel and wife Ryan and children Jesse and beautiful newly born baby Vivian. Our Son Matthew and wife Kristi and children Karli and Korbin. Our Son Heath and daughter LuLu – I am so proud of them and my entire family, many of which are here tonight including my sister Carrol and husband Michael—brother Denton and wife Karen—sister-in-law Janelle – Aunt & Uncle De and Ruth Lannom and the best mother-in-law ever Maxine who provides a safe-haven for Tresa and I to recover from our hectic schedules. They truly are our pride and joy.
Next would be the folks that have done so much of the “heavy” lifting over the years. I often say, correctly, I am the weakest link in a very strong chain of leaders in SS. Beginning with Robert Franklin who I suspect had much to do with my nomination and selection and has the courage of a lion—Lonetta Sprague who continues to have my back—Gary Watts who may be the smartest guy I know—Lori Kerns who taught me how to spell curriculum—Sherry Durkee who continues to amaze me how much she knows about all things school related— and of course Larry Elliott who coached me how to become a Sandite! I would also like to recognize Mr. George Paden, a lifelong Sand Springs educator/administrator who has been so gracious and supportive of my efforts to follow his footsteps as Supt. of Schools.
A special thanks to past and present Boards of Education members that understood how focused-ethical governance can accomplish so many good things for kids and communities.There are many community leaders here tonight like Monte Box who started the Sand Springs Education Foundation 25 years ago. We are so blessed with wonderful supporters and advocates for public schools and education in SS. The vision of these leaders has made many dreams come true. I thank them for their service and support.
In addition I want to express my personal appreciation to our teachers, support staff, and exceptional site leaders in SS and previous districts. I bet most in this room had that special teacher like Frank Cooper who is in the audience tonight, our super star state TOY finalist that inspired us. The quality of people in our profession is so often taken for granted.
Folks know when I have an audience I will give you my view of our world. I think Diane Ravitch gets it right in her latest book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. She says, and I paraphrase, the only crisis in public education is the one ginned up by government bureaucrats, major foundations, odd coalitions of elitists and commercial hustlers who make inflated claims about the virtues of vouchers, charter schools, virtual schools, standardized testing, merit pay, etc . They insist
that poverty has no correlation to low academic achievement and that overhauling our entire system along business lines is the way to go.
I feel like business/industry/philanthropists/politiciansare trying to FIX us. Not like a car like a cat! Friends our public schools are like the Statue of Liberty—We take the tired-hungry-poor-huddled masses—whether they are ELL—special needs—or whatever and we give them hope and opportunity. I wish policy makers who think they have to FIX us would explain how so many of their “reforms” will help teachers teach and children learn. I deal with real teachers and real kids. They are not numbers.
So here is my top 10 Reasons to be concerned about what getting FIXED feels like in public education:
Number 10 High stakes testing is out of control stifling entrepreneurship, creativity, and the American spirit—-We have spent billions developing and administering tests—wish we had that money in classrooms for kids.
Number 9 We have not had enough time to learn/tweak/embrace common core much less implement high stakes ramifications for students and teachers.
Number 8 Too many talented teachers are retiring too early for the wrong reasons—feeling undervalued—unappreciated—and uninvited in education decision making.
Number 7 Too few young people are entering into our profession—the toxic political rhetoric along with embarrassing low pay and constant criticisms are having an impact.
Number 6 Flawed school district report cards that are not purposeful or useful.
Number 5 Local Boards of Education losing the ability to govern. When did we lose our kids—our schools—our community—-?
Number 4 Public education being hijacked by private businesses concerned mostly about profit not pupils.
Number 3 Dealing with leadership at the SDE is put kindly—challenging and frustrating.
Number 2 The script (reforms) is crafted by think tanks far from classrooms, kids, and teachers. For some reason our legislators feel like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and Jeb Bush’s Foundation knows more about schools and education than seasoned teachers and administrators.
And the Number 1 Reason to be Concerned: 49th or 50th is NOT OK — Funding for Public Education in Okla. has fallen from 38.2 % of total budget appropriations to an all time low of 33.8% or 33.2% depending on how you interpret the data. Bottom line since 2009 we have 40,000 more students in our state and 200 million less to educate them. And of course recent reform mandates were unfunded!! My opinion reforms absent resources are ridiculous and political nonsense. So what do we do?
My passion yesterday, today, and tomorrow —is to defend and protect Public Education, the cornerstone of our democracy. Mother Theresa was fond of saying “children may not be all of our population but they are 100% of our future.” I am concerned with a political agenda that may be designed solely to dismantle public education.
Educators feel unappreciated, undervalued, uninvited, and unfunded. The bottom line teacher morale is the lowest in my 34 years as supt.
The truth—-Public Education has not failed and is not failing. 95% of our schools are very successful. Test scores are higher than ever, our dropout rate is lower than ever, and achievement gaps are narrowing. This is the reality despite the constant critical rhetoric we get from folks with private agendas. I am fearful that we are on a path where we have begun to re-segregate schools by using the code word “choice” that really means vouchers—privatization—scholarships—parent trigger—market place options and on and on.
I can’t help but think of one very powerful word-GREED -The smell of money. When we turn our schools over to people more concerned with profit than kids our democracy is at stake. We saw the Wall Street meltdown. Surely we learned something from that fiasco. I kind of feel like—Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss—remember where the people of Whoville save themselves by yelling, “we are here, we are here!”
Colleagues, friends, we must come together. We must tell policy makers we are here and will not allow public schools to be dismantled. We must advocate vigorously for our kids and public education.
We must become an army of voices. It is not too late to be heard and be saved. There is nothing so wrong with our schools that cannot be FIXED by what is right with our schools. Coach Wooden always told his players —Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. We cannot be silent.
Diogenes said the foundation of every state is the education of its youth.
Margaret Meade said when we save our children we save ourselves.
My deepest thanks to the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame selection committee and my family, colleagues, and friends in attendance tonight. I just wish my mom and dad were still alive to celebrate this moment with the Snow family. They would be so proud.
God Bless you and again thanks.
One last bit of wisdom given to me from Calvin Agee a retired supt. in Sulphur Oklahoma years ago when I tried to follow in his footsteps as a young superintendent . It goes like this:
IT’S NOT MY JOB TO RUN THE TRAIN
THE WHISTLE I DON’T BLOW
IT’S NOT MY JOB TO SAY HOW FAST OR FAR THE TRAIN WILL GO
IT’S NOT MY JOB TO SHOOT OFF STEAM OR EVEN CLANG THE BELL
BUT LET THE DAMN THING JUMP THE TRACK
AND SEE WHO CATCHES HELL!!!!
One last thing: Congratulations and thank you, Mr. Snow.