November Review/December Preview (2013)
What a month this was! We finally had the release of our A-F Report Cards. We had insult after insult from the state superintendent and a veiled threat from the governor. We also had more people than ever speaking out about it. Parent meetings are becoming more common all over Oklahoma, and at each, the common thread is that state policy makers are out of touch with communities.
It’s no wonder that this blog is getting so much traffic. Allow me to stat-brag with a few numbers.
|April – December 2012||31,418 views|
|October 2013||20,731 views|
|November 2013||32,243 views*|
*as of 11:00 am 11/30/13
October set a record by about 3,000 page views. November blew it away, with more views than I had in the blog’s inaugural year. While I’m incredibly thankful that so many people keep stopping by to see what’s being read, I know that the traffic is more of a result of what’s happening in this state than how I’m responding to it. It’s no wonder then that November saw five of the ten most viewed posts ever on the blog (each with over 2,000 views).
- I Too Will Be Damned – At first I thought it was just Superintendent Barresi lashing out irrationally at her detractors (which is a trend). It turned out to be a new campaign theme. Barresi has said, “I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the unions or anyone else in the education establishment lose another generation of Oklahoma’s children,” on multiple recorded occasions now. It’s the biggest slap in the face a state leader has ever given teachers. She’s quickly approaching Chris Christie territory, and this behavior shows no signs of abating. Next thing you know, she’ll be calling schools “failure factories” and wagging her finger in teachers’ faces.
- Education Reform Candidate Meeting – This was another place where Barresi repeated the line about being damned. What was interesting about the two hours of video from this campaign event was that Barresi had her positions questioned by a potential challenger, as well as from voters in the audience. Through all the politics, you can hear the fears of parents who have unique concerns for their children and the impact of Barresi’s reform agenda. Remember that these parents vote.
- About the Governor’s Letter – After Governor Fallin (or her spokesperson, depending on what you choose to believe) started a fury by questioning whether complaining about the A-F Report Cards would prove counterproductive when asking the legislature for more money, she backtracked and asked for calm. In defending the A-F Report Cards, she resorted to something far short of logic. I countered each point, and apparently, that resonated more with my readers than the veiled threat itself.
- Things that correlate to A-F Grades – This was one of my most deeply statistical pieces. Usually, I put a ton of work into calculating data and writing these, only to find the response disappointing. Not only did the post resonate, but it also generated additional research by other readers and bloggers. In short, we keep finding a strong correlation between poverty and accountability measures.
- Speaking of Cheap Political Theater – This was the original Fallin post after she made what seemed like a threat. Her spokesperson said it’s wrong to tell parents the law is wrong (which sounded to many readers like a double standard).
What we’re seeing, in addition to continued attacks on public education, is a tightening of the ranks among elected leaders right now. As they attempt to silence discord, both within the Republican Party and outside of it, the clamoring for change grows louder. In terms of her re-election, I’ve always thought Fallin was pretty safe. Maybe that’s why she’s marching lock-step with Barresi now. Or maybe it’s part of a larger strategy to be relevant nationally in 2016. Who really knows?
Fortunately, December is usually a calmer month. We won’t have as many major announcements or political events. Then again, since most of what I write comes as a response to something that surprises me, we may set more records.