Home > Uncategorized > Reason #13 to Pick a New State Superintendent: Being Damned

Reason #13 to Pick a New State Superintendent: Being Damned

June 8, 2014

I probably committed to this list of 20 reasons to elect a new state superintendent too soon. For one thing, I have inadvertently crowd sourced more ideas than that. People keep messaging me more ideas. I have been reminded of posts that I wrote many moons ago. I have been reminded of things that I missed along the way. I’ve been able to combine some ideas, but there will definitely be an overflow column along the way.

A second reason is that I’m trying to make this more than a series highlighting some of my favorite posts from the past 27 months. Since I tend to write these when I’m frustrated, none are really my favorites. There are some that are more important than others, though. Rather, I’m trying to highlight the impact of some of the bad decisions that have plagued public education for lo these many years. And while I’m using old material to do so, I am trying to add something new to each post. I don’t want this series to be like a long-running sitcom clip show because we’ve hit some milestone (although my 500th post should be coming up later this summer).

These are taking time, and I’m still finding, after the fact, that there are things I wish I had said. I left out of my discussion of VAM the fact that the American Statistical Association came out with a strong statement critical of this concept.

In recent years, use of VAMs has become more prevalent, perhaps because these models are viewed as more objective or authoritative than other types of information. Also referred to as value-added assessment (VAA) models, VAMs attempt to measure the value a teacher adds to student-achievement growth by analyzing changes in standardized test scores.

In response to the growing use of VAMs, including in high-stakes decisions such as determining compensation, evaluating and ranking teachers, hiring or dismissing teachers, awarding tenure and closing schools, the ASA position statement makes the following recommendations:

• The ASA endorses wise use of data, statistical models and designed experiments for improving the quality of education.

• VAMs are complex statistical models, and high-level statistical expertise is needed to develop the models and interpret their results.

• Estimates from VAMs should always be accompanied by measures of precision and a discussion of the assumptions and possible limitations of the model.

• VAMs should be viewed within the context of quality improvement, which distinguishes aspects of quality that can be attributed to the system from those that can be attributed to individual teachers, teacher preparation programs or schools.

The last few posts in this series thread together pretty well. We have people who don’t know anything about teaching, testing, or Oklahoma making capricious and arbitrary decisions about standards and testing that will be used to measure teacher effectiveness. Frame that with the empty promise of $2,000 raises for teachers and today’s topic – the infamous “I’ll be damned” remark – and we have a complete argument for changing the leadership at the SDE.

#17 – 2K4T

#16 – Questionable Personnel Decisions

#15 – Pulling out of PARCC

#14 – Value-added Measurements

#13 – Being Damned     

“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.”

-Janet Barresi, November 8, 2013

If I had known in November that I’d be making this list I would’ve been certain that this one would make the top five. It’s the most glaring insult to Oklahoma’s teachers that we’ve heard from her. To be fair, when she says education establishment, she may be talking more about administrators than teachers. Still, in the real world, most people teach for a significant amount of time before coming administrators. At the time of this statement, here is what I wrote:

What offends me though, more than the rampant misidentification and straw man fallacy, is the statement after the profanity. Which of the 2,000 regular readers (or the readers who receive this as a forward in your email) think you’ve contributed to the loss of a generation of Oklahoma’s children? If I were completely honest, the language she used in that statement would be mild compared to what I really want to say.

Instead, here are my nice words.

When the SDE needed help rolling out reforms such as TLE and the Common Core, they enlisted the help of veteran educators – some through the OEA, and some through CCOSA. Think whatever you want about teacher unions, but when the SDE needed someone to do the heavy lifting, they called the OEA. And those $2,000 raises Barresi has been clamoring for at campaign whistle-stops? Those would go to the teachers who have … what was the phrase again … oh yeah, lost generations of children.

Barresi doesn’t care about Oklahoma educators or what we think. Do you remember that letter written by Broken Arrow Superintendent Dr. Jarod Mendenhall last August? No response. She came into offices swearing she would transform the SDE from a regulatory agency into a service agency. She hasn’t. It has gone exactly the opposite of that.

When speaking to her base, we’re the cause of the lost generation. When she’s speaking to us directly, we’re brave, courageous, dedicated, and innovative. Nobody is fooled anymore. This was the moment when the true Janet Barresi became undeniable. Insincere people will show their true colors eventually.

That must be why she’s taken to skipping candidate forums lately – one Friday and one today.

When she speaks in public, it goes one of two ways. Either she’ll be damned, or her face will peel off from trying so hard to pretend she respects educators.

In 16 days, we get to unburden her.

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