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February 13, 2016

Yesterday, at the end of a long week, I caught wind of a post on the Middle Ground News site critical of some of the content on this blog, as well as Rob Miller’s View From the Edge and Dallas Koehn’s Blue Cereal Education. Apparently, we’re having our hands slapped for being potty mouths. To refresh your memory, it all started a week ago at this time, when the Oklahoman plaintively wailed a collective you guys at all of us for saying what we actually think.

I probably kicked it up a notch mid-week responding to a Journal Record column by OCPA fellow Andrew Spiropolous, critical of his perpetual rip of public education. Here’s part of what I wrote:

The facts don’t matter to Spiropolous, or any other member of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. They may bill themselves as a “public policy research organization,” but their primary function, for over 20 years, has been the dismantling of state government. They never miss an opportunity to root against public education. It’s their bread and butter.

It disgusts me. My career in public education began the same year OCPA was founded. It’s a coincidence, but a meaningful one to me. I am currently responsible for the education of more than 14,000 students in my school district, and I’m proud to do it. I’ve also had the privilege to work with several of the educators mocked by Spiropolous at the top of his column.

They deserve better than this.

Since you’ve probably never heard of Middle Ground News, you should probably know that they’re another tentacle in the parasitic hydra that is OCPA. So is the 1889 Institute, which is why the Oklahoman keeps giving them space on the opinion page. Even the Choice Remarks blog is really just OCPA vice-president Brandon Dutcher. And if you’ll scroll down the blog and see their content, it’s just a roll call of every negative article they can find about a public school.

Collectively, these individuals and groups will do whatever it takes to foment enmity towards public education. They are the mouthpieces of the far, far, far right. When I tell people that letting the infrastructure of your state’s core services crumble around you is not a conservative value, it’s in response to people such as this, and the key elected leaders that they control.

In all their fury, Middle Ground took particular exception to what I wrote last weekend:

Cobb often demands greater funding from the state as a matter of legislative appropriation; in this post he demands a blank check while using his position as a public School administrator to insist on political activism by private citizens.

“It can’t just be educators beating down the doors of our elected leaders. We need parents and community members saying that enough is enough! And before any smart-aleck representative asks back, ‘How much is enough?’ I’ll just let you know that we’re nowhere close. I don’t have a number.

I’m not asking for a blank check. I’m asking for adequate funding. I’m also preemptively saying that none of us really know what that number is because it’s never been approached in this state. And yes, I do call for more of the people who are frustrated to be outspoken. Why should it just be my rowdy blogger friends and me? Would I say that I insist? No. It’s neither a condition of employment nor friendship. I’ll still respect you if you keep your nose down and try to avoid the politics. We all have our path to take. Besides, not everybody likes having a bullseye on them. Of course, there was more:

“I don’t have a number. You’re lucky I have my nice words. Just keep adding, and we’ll tell you when you get there.”
Cobb continued his rant to berate the legislature and governor alluding to a highly vulgar obscenity much like fellow #OKLAed blogger Koehn as shown above.

“Don’t say you support education. You had a chance when times were good, from 2011-2015. You missed it. And now, when things are tough? You’re all voucher this, A-F that. Well A-F that is right!”

It is true that Superintendent Cobb, Assistant Superintendent Miller, Mr. Koehn and many others attach disclaimers and notes insisting on a separation between their blog life and their professional life. However, a simple statement proclaiming oneself to be professionally divorced from their own public actions does not make it so.

Yes, I alluded to an obscenity. It’s a joke that many of us have been making online for two years, dating back to a discussion of t-shirt designs prior to the 2014 education rally at the Capitol.

I’m sorry you’re upset.


I’m “sorry.”

Actually, I’m not. Be upset. Feign offense. I’m good with either.

Whoever wrote this piece also insinuates that we should be fired for what we’ve written, and compares our language to people who’ve used racist speech on their social media accounts. That’s absurd. We’ve voiced our opinions about bad policy and policy-makers who don’t seem to care about Oklahoma’s children. I can’t speak for my friends, but I have no intention of stopping.

One last excerpt:

Bloggers such as Koehn, Miller, Cobb and others within the #OKLAed community have derived a modicum of renown for their position in the classroom, principal’s office or administration building. Subsequently, they have converted that notoriety into a measure of online celebrity. However, that celebrity is irrevocably linked to their professional position within the school.

After I revealed my identity last year, my daughter called me a temporary, minor, local, online celebrity. That’s a nicer way of saying what Middle Ground wrote, I guess. I don’t know how many people regularly visit their compendium of websites and social media accounts, but I know my numbers. I count the Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and page views. I don’t know how OCPA defines modicum, but I do know that they tout their free-market principles.

Let me just say then, that if ideas are a free-market commodity, those of people such as Rob, Dallas, me, and the rest of our rebel alliance, are in demand. Until that’s no longer the case, we’ll continue with the supply.

And if you’re still asking yourself, hey, exactly what middle does this right-wing fringe group represent, allow Stealers Wheel to answer that in the video below:

  1. CJ
    February 13, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you for fighting the good fight! Brandon Dutcher and his ilk have been the nest of vipers in this state spewing hatred for teachers for so long. No one ever took him credibly (except the Oklahoman) until this anti-teacher group infested the Capitol. They have acted like the Kim Jong Un’s of Education, seizing power and stripping teachers of the rights they worked for for over a quarter of a century without any discussion with the people involved or the people of this state. They put a “gun” to their heads in the form of punitive standards linked soley to testing, devised ways to make it almost impossible to succeed and rained abuse upon them any way they could to discredit any who dared speak up. They have rammed anti-public education bills that never came out of committe through by shoving them into important bills at the last possible moment so they would go through without discussion. Teachers being teachers, they adjusted and made do and did the best they could for the kids, so they took away more and more. Now they think they have teachers and schools on the chopping block and are preparing to deliver the death blow. We need the people of Oklahoma to speak and to finally say, “This is enough. It must stop. Our teachers are fine. We need more of them and our children deserve more than what the state is giving them.” The six billion that went to education testing and prep companies should have been spent providing extra tutors and special classes for struggling kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. February 14, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for being a voice for education, children, families, and communities. Your lwillingness to “say it like it is” gives others the courage to speak up. If we don’t give voice to our concerns and take action we will never see change!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Barbara
    February 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Amen to you both. Our state leaders do not care about our children, our schools, the condition of our state’s infrastructure. It is time we become active in finding leaders who will bring education and our children to the forefront of positive actions. Oklahoma crumbles while our electrd leaders fiddle with tax breaks and incentives for big business and the wealthy. Our children, their education and their mental and physical health should be our top priority! Our children are our future, not oil and gas, big business or the wealthy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. February 14, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    How dare you stand up for public education!?! What could you be thinking!?! Actually, thank you for calling out OCPA, Middle Ground, and the Daily Disappointment. If you’re not making them upset, you’re not doing your job.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. February 14, 2016 at 10:01 pm
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