Reason #18 to Pick a New State Superintendent: The Hearing no one Heard
We’re up to number 18 on the countdown. I’m starting to feel a little bit like Casey Casem doing American Top 40 back in the ‘70s! So far we’ve covered the origin of our NCLB waiver and the botched selection of CTB as our testing company.
#18: The Hearing no one Heard
This one, like the #20 reason, pre-dates this blog, though just barely. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I started writing.
Early in 2012, the SDE issued proposed rules for the first round of A-F Report Cards. In March, they announced that they would hold an open forum to listen to input about the proposed rules.
|A-F School Grading System Rules Public Forum on March 19
OKLAHOMA CITY (March 14, 2012) – The State Department of Education will hold a public forum on March 19 to hear comments on draft rules and a rule intent statement for the A-F School Grading System along with several other administrative rules, including proposed changes to the Bullying Prevention Act and a proposed draft of Oklahoma C3 Standards for Social Studies.
The public forum will begin at 10 a.m. in the State Board of Education room at the State Department of Education, 2500 N Lincoln Blvd.
The proposed rules have been posted on the State Department of Education’s website, http://ok.gov/sde/education-law-book. The rules are open for a public comment period through 4 p.m. March 19.
The State Board of Education will vote on the rules at its regular monthly meeting March 29.
A-F was one of several reforms passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin last year.
The A-F School Grading System will use assessment results from the 2011-12 school year in determining a ranking that is designed to encourage parent and community engagement and better understanding of school performance in a manner transparent to school leaders and easily communicated to the public, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said. In addition to test scores, a school’s grade will include student learning gains, improvement of the lowest 25 percent of students in reading and math, and whole school improvement among other factors.
Yes, I save things. This one in particular makes the permanent collection – not because the memo from the SDE was remarkable, but because what happened next. If you’ll recall, at the SDE held the public forum, but the public was speaking to tape recorders. While I hadn’t started doing this yet, the godmother of Oklahoma education blogging had. This, from Claudia Swisher:
|The Board Room was packed. Lisa Enders, the General Council, chaired the meeting. No Board members were present, but Enders assured us the Board will get the video and all the written responses before their next meeting…NEXT week.
I was taking notes furiously, and missed some names and titles. I’ve attempted to find evidence of names and school titles, but may very well have made mistakes! I was trying to listen, write, and worry about the fact I accidentally put my name on the list of people giving public comments.
NOT in order, but organized by job description, here’s a summary of my hasty, sloppy notes. Names are included if I could get them! I wanted the narrative to begin with one of the people who helped draft the law that allowed the Rules, and end with a plea to start over and get it right…
There’s so much more, and you should re-read the entire post. It’s a classic. To no one’s surprise, many of the concerns of those in attendance came to fruition.
Maybe this one should be higher in the countdown. Perhaps I’m experiencing the primacy/recency effect. The fact that the SDE held a public hearing without State Board members or top administrators (other than legal counsel) present was an insult to all who had taken the time to research the proposed rules, attend the hearing, and voice their concerns. It was more evidence that the Barresi and her top officials at the SDE just don’t care what people think.
Ten days later, they passed their rules and seemed pretty proud of themselves about it.
|The Oklahoma State Board of Education on March 29, 2012, approved permanent administrative rules for the A-F School Grading System. The system was voted into law last year. The rules give guidance to districts to implement the specifics of the law. The A-F system gives parents and community members the ability to see school performance as a clear-cut A through F letter grade. The State Department of Education anticipates releasing the first letter grades for school performance across the state before the beginning of the next school year, in August. The adopted rules will be posted on the State Department of Education’s website, http://ok.gov/sde/education-law-book.|
Yes, the letter grades were so clear-cut that a group of researchers dismissed them as useless. They were so great that the legislature completely revamped the formula the next year. They were so simple that they sent a 14 page communications toolkit to schools to help them explain the results to parents. Surprisingly, districts created their own talking points, and they were vastly different.
It was about this time that the SDE also released its initial list of “Reward Schools,” which led to my first post – which was written about two weeks before I posted it. I even tried getting Claudia to put it on her blog – mainly because I knew people would read it if she did. In the 27 months since that empty gesture of a public hearing, Barresi has shown even less interest in listening to teachers and administrators. Schools – and the people in them – are her props for photo ops, nothing more. She will occasionally call teachers brave, but it’s a shallow gesture, typically followed by declarations that they don’t know what they’re doing…which gives me some ideas for the next installment.