Barresi: Still Lacking Comprehension
Today, the Oklahoma House of Representatives did the right thing, sending HB 2625 to the Governor by a vote of 89-6. The House also passed the emergency clause – which would make the changes to the Reading Sufficiency Act effective immediate upon the governor’s signature – by a vote of 83-6.
That happened at 4:25 p.m. At 4:52, the SDE responded.
|Supt. Barresi comments on House passage of HB 2625
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 12, 2014) — Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi made the following remarks today following House passage of House Bill 2625:
“Today’s vote endorses a system of social promotion that has failed to reduce illiteracy and has deprived students from receiving the best education possible. Nothing is more fundamental to learning than the ability to read. The Reading Sufficiency Act can greatly improve literacy in our state, but it cannot work if it is abandoned for social promotion.
“Illiteracy in our children must be a call to action. Everything I’ve seen this school year proves that teachers all across our state have heard that call and are doing monumental things. They are persisting with struggling readers and giving children the one skill that will serve as a gateway to other personal achievements in their lives.
“The RSA ensures the greatest resources and amount of time available to intensive, customized reading instruction. Only in the most extreme cases when good-cause exemptions don’t apply is retention part of the law. The point of the RSA is to focus education for struggling readers long before they reach third-grade.
“Instead of providing an alternative to learning to read, which this pending bill does, we should instead spend our energies helping these students read. Instead of taking the easy way out, we need to make certain every effort is made by parents, teachers and our communities to help these children learn to read.”
“House Bill 2625 reinforces a status quo that has failed far too many children. It places exorbitant costs and time on school districts by mandating fourth- and fifth-grade reading remediation for students with Unsatisfactory and Limited Knowledge scores. Moreover, it requires districts to hire reading specialists to be on the committees, an expense that smaller districts will be unable to afford. It undermines a law that districts have had three years to comply with and involve parents in its implementation.
“Even a well-intentioned bill can have grievous consequences, and I am concerned that is the case with HB 2625.”
She just doesn’t get it. Parents and educators don’t want the fate of children decided by tests. She also doesn’t get that the six good cause exemptions provide very little relief – especially for special education students and English language learners. Her word choice, as always, tells the story clearly. Thankfully Teacher Appreciation Week is over. Barresi can go back to doing what she does best.
To say this vote endorses a system that has deprived students is ridiculous. Depriving schools money hurts kids. Suppressing teacher wages so that they leave the state or the profession hurts kids. Teaching them and working with their parents on placement decisions, on the other hand, is a true illustration of doing best for children.
And this is not a one-year phenomenon. What Barresi has seen this school year is teachers and parents scrambling to prevent bad policy from hurting good people. Teachers in Oklahoma have always done monumental things and shown what persisting in struggle looks like.
Already, her one remaining ally in the legislature is calling on Governor Fallin to veto the bill. I’m not convinced her mind is made up. In any case, we can’t let that happen. She’s up for re-election too. Call today. Call tomorrow. Call every day until she signs HB 2625 into law.
That is all.