Veto Override & the Power of #oklaed
This afternoon, both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature voted to override Governor Fallin’s veto of HB 2625, which amends the Reading Sufficiency Act. The vote in the House was 79-17. In the Senate it was 45-2.
Many parents and educators lobbied for today’s action, even after Fallin waited until nearly midnight to officially notify the House of the veto she had announced hours earlier at a press conference. In the end, only a few changed their votes. Before the veto, the combined tally had been 132-7 in favor of the bill. Today, it was 124-19. Maybe the governor, the state superintendent, and their friends at the Oklahoman and OCPA can take solace in the fact that they nearly tripled their vote count from before. Even U.S. Senate candidate T.W. Shannon bothered to show up to vote today.
On the other hand, maybe those supporting the veto were feeling a little sour after the vote. In particular, Superintendent Barresi took the news badly.
Barresi has been a strong supporter of leaving the reading law unchanged. In a statement issued by her office, she said children must be able to read and that “today’s action is a pathetic and outrageous step back and returns us to a failed system of social promotion that has served the education establishment and little else.”
“I applaud Gov. Fallin for her steadfast support of our children. Her veto was absolutely the right thing to do, and the Legislature’s override of it was absolutely the wrong thing to do.”
Pathetic and outrageous. Let that sink in for a minute. This is what we’ve been dealing with since January 2011. Our public education system is being run by someone who thinks that those who oppose her are pathetic and outrageous. She thinks that all ideas that don’t align with hers (or Jeb Bush and ALEC) only serve the education establishment. If she had managed somehow to fit an excoriation of liberals in there and blamed the override on Obamacare, she would have hit for the cycle.
I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely sick of Barresi treating us this way. I am sick of being invited to serve on commissions that only convene to ratify decisions that were made in advance. I am sick of the lies she tells about special education students. I am sick of her using our students and teachers as campaign props. In short, I am just completely sick of the disrespect she continually shows us.
And I’m not just speaking as a proud member of the education establishment. I’m speaking as a voter – one who is also sick of the way the governor has treated us. Meanwhile, I’m happy to say that 124 members of the legislature showed that they are listening to their constituents.
Tonight, long-time blog reader, Twitter friend, and Clinton Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Hime made an observation about the power of social media activism over these last several months.
He’s right, too. I remember those discussions, trying to decide how we would tag our conversations about education in this state. For about the first 10 months that I blogged and tweeted, I don’t think I used many hashtags, if any at all. After we decided upon the #oklaed label, I often forgot to include it in the box for how new blog posts would appear on Twitter. It took a while for it to sink in. Now, when I go to Twitter, the first thing I usually do is search #oklaed to see if I’ve missed anything.
What we’ve become is a community that gets together on Sunday night to chat – one that includes teachers, administrators, and parents. We even have SDE staff using the hashtag. Yes, the community has dissonance, but that’s what makes it whole. It’s not one unified voice. About the only thing we all agree upon is the idea that voices mustn’t be silenced.
In the last two days, Fallin and Barresi have shown who they really are. And their voices deserve to be heard too. They just should accept that there are other opinions that will sometimes prevail.
Pathetic and outrageous? I can think of at least ten more appropriate adjectives to describe the override.
If Barresi didn’t like today’s vote, I wonder what words she will use when she loses her party’s primary in 34 days.