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Reason #7 to pick Dr. Grace over Mr. Walters: The company you keep

August 10, 2022 Comments off

On the bottom words are shallow
The surface talk is cheap
You can only judge the distance by the company you keep
In the eyes of the confessor

Joe Walsh, The Confessor (1985)

It’s been a while since I started a blog post with a 1980s song lyric. This one has been rolling around in my head ever since I started putting this list together. Before we get into Reason #7, though, I want to start with a quick debate recap. Tuesday night, Dr. April Grace appeared on Fox 25 to debate Ryan Walters.

Right out of the gate, we saw the contrast. The first question asked was about the biggest issue in public education at this time:

Walters: “The biggest issue facing our school system today is left-wing indoctrination…issues like critical race theory, transgenderism, and an anti-American-like curriculum.”

Grace: “We’ve got to get serious about solving the teacher shortage…getting back to focusing on early literacy for our early learners and expanding options for our high school students.”

Walters pivoted to indoctrination on every nearly answer. He even said superintendents in Oklahoma are trying to “win the woke Olympics.” No, I have no idea what that means either. If we had some kind of contest in place to perhaps give ourselves treats every time Walters said woke or indoctrination, I’d be in no condition to finish this blog post.

This is all he has. He expressed no real ideas or plans. If he has any thoughts about improving public schools in Oklahoma, he either can’t or won’t articulate them. Dr. Grace answered every question with specific examples from her experiences. Walters doesn’t understand school funding. He doesn’t understand law. He doesn’t even understand simple processes like the textbook adoption cycle. Every sentence out of his mouth sounds like it could have been written by a bot that watched 10,000 hours of propaganda.

Every educator in Oklahoma should cringe at the accusations Walters is making about the work we do. We keep our students safe. We teach the basics. We work with families. We know our communities. He shows no interest in doing this. If Ryan Walters, in his official capacity, ever wants to visit classrooms (or libraries) in my school district, I’d be happy to show him the good work we are doing for our students daily.

Dr. Grace closed by challenging Walters to make even one positive statement about something specific happening in a public school somewhere in Oklahoma. She gave several examples. He whiffed. You would think that with all the campaigning he has been able to do while ostensibly working for the state, that he would have seen something commendable. 


Ok, back to the countdown. Maybe the company our candidates keep should be higher than reason #7. As I mentioned in Reason #8, most of the money backing the Ryan Walters campaign is coming from special interest groups and dark money from outside of Oklahoma. And his most vocal support comes from the same predictable crowd that has been trying to wreck public schools for decades.

Let’s start with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA). I’m not going to link to their work. If you haven’t heard of them, I’m incredibly happy for you. If you have, you know that they call themselves a free market think tank and have spent almost three decades only supporting candidates who want to dismantle public education.

Walters has no bigger ally than Governor Stitt, who hasn’t been involved in politics for long (and wasn’t a regular voter prior to running). In all the years that I’ve been aware of OCPA, I don’t think they have agreed with a governor more completely than the current one – the one whose approval ratings are falling.

Governor Stitt appointed Walters to the position of Secretary of Education. Meanwhile, Walters also works for Every Kid Counts Oklahoma (EKCO), which has ties to the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), the supposedly philanthropic arm of the Wal-Mart empire. They have committed billions of dollars over the years to defunding public schools. It’s their signature endeavor. I’ve been writing about them on this blog since 2013, as well as their ties to the Oklahoma Public Schools Resource Center (OPSRC).

It should be noted, of course, that EKCO shares office space with OPSRC.

Walters is supported by former state superintendent Janet Barresi, who was such a disaster in her sole term in office that she finished third in her primary in 2014. Barresi’s former campaign manager and chief of staff, Jennifer Carter, works with Class Wallet and the American Federation for Children. She had a hand in helping Walters misspend federal relief funds.

Jennifer Carter, by the way, is married to Ray Carter, who used to write editorials for the Oklahoman and now does the bulk of the writing at the OCPA website. Help me out here. Is a puppet the one with all the strings or the one with the hand? Nevermind. It doesn’t matter.

Meanwhile, Dr. Grace has a broad coalition of support. Educators who don’t appreciate baseless derision are behind her. Parents who want their public schools to remain the centerpiece of their communities do too. More and more elected officials who are tired of the baseless attacks on schools are with her as well. 

I’m with the candidate who can get educators, families, and communities behind her. I’m with Dr. Grace.

Previous: Reason #8 Showing Up

Next: Reason #6 Credibility

Categories: Uncategorized

Reason #10 to pick Dr. Grace over Mr. Walters: Leadership Experience

August 2, 2022 Comments off

As I wrote Sunday, I’ve been toying around with a #TopTen list for a couple of weeks. I have even bounced ideas off of a few friends. At one point, the list grew to almost 20 reasons not to promote Ryan Walters from his car office to the post of State Superintendent. Some of them were gloriously hilarious, yet sadly unusable. 

We have three weeks until the runoff. Absentee ballots are already out. Many people have already voted. I’m concerned.

I did some research on voter turnout in previous Republican runoff elections. Here’s what I found:

  • In 2010, voter turnout between the primary and runoff dropped by 48%. Then again, the only statewide race was for Insurance Commissioner. Local races drove most of the turnout.
  • In 2014, there were no statewide runoff elections for Republicans. It should be noted, however, that the governor was an incumbent, and the incumbent state superintendent came in third in her primary election. I don’t know if that’s relevant or not, but I like mentioning that any time I have a chance.
  • During the 2018 primary, medical marijuana was also on the ballot. Voter turnout was higher [pun intended] than usual. Over 429,000 Republicans voted in the primary, up from 262,000 in 2014. During the runoff election in August, the number of voters dropped off by 31%. Still, we had the Governor and State Superintendent races on the ballot. Turnout in the runoff was about as heavy as turnout in the primary in 2014 or 2018.
  • In 2022, there were about 360,000 ballots cast in the Republican primary. This year, we aren’t voting for a governor or weed in the runoff. We do have some juicy down ballot races, though. Labor Commissioner has become a heated contest between incumbent Leslie Osburn and a challenger I won’t even dignify by naming. Osburn has been a long-time supporter of #oklaed. As for her challenger, well, you can look it up. We also have statewide runoffs for Jim Inhofe’s soon-to-be vacant US Senate seat, Treasurer, and Corporation Commissioner. The Second Congressional District also has a runoff. I expect turnout to be fairly high – especially on the east side of the state.

Clearly, the race that interests me the most is for State Superintendent. I want to take a quick moment to acknowledge the people who keep reminding me that there are actually three candidates for the position. Yes, Jena Nelson is on the ballot as the Democratic nominee. That’s November’s problem. It’s August. I’m focused on this race. Jena is a former state teacher of the year, and once the runoff is complete, I’ll be even more interested in hearing about her platform. I’ve never met Ms. Nelson, but we’ve interacted on social media. I know she’s not hostile to the profession. That’s enough to make me want to hear more.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Reason #10: Leadership Experience. Put simply, Dr. Grace has quite a bit. Ryan Walters has virtually none. He was a history teacher in McAlester before being named Executive Director Every Kid Counts Oklahoma (EKCO), a nonprofit startup that began operating in 2020. What do they stand for? This seemingly innocuous screen grab from their website lays it out.

The fact that EKCO co-offices with the Oklahoma Public Schools Resource Center (funded by the Walton Family Foundation) is a story for another post later in the countdown. I want to focus for a minute on the first and last of their core values.

Students Not Systems sounds harmless, right? The money should follow the kid? Well it already does. The state has a funding formula, with all kinds of accountability measures in place. Since the vast majority (about 700,000) of those students attend our public schools, those funds flow through the public school system. Walters’s position with EKCO gives him the air of legitimacy while he plays politics from his car all day. 

Similarly, Win Together should be a rallying cry for all of us, right? It’s one thing to say, education is not a partisan issue out of one side of your mouth and then turn on your smart phone and blast the liberal woke mob out of the other side. With Walters and the people who prop him up, it’s not enough to be a Republican and agree with them most of the time. You must also vote their way on all issues – especially vouchers – or they will bring in all kinds of dark money to fund campaigns against you. 

The six-figure salary Walters receives for performing his official “duties” with EKCO allows him to live comfortably while also collecting about what a legislator makes and serving as Governor Stitt’s Secretary of Education. In that role, he still has very little authority. That’s why his complete failure in the Class Wallet scandal is so bewildering. Between his two “jobs,” he really shouldn’t even have had to multitask. 

Leaders do the hard day-to-day work of improving systems and building people up. Leaders stand in front during a crisis. Unlike her opponent, Dr. Grace has done this. She has been a teacher, coach, and principal. She led the Human Resources department of one of the largest districts in the state for a decade. She is entering her seventh year as a school superintendent. She has been the president of the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators (OASA), and she was named Oklahoma Superintendent of the Year in 2021. 

For more than three decades, April has shown up and focused on making people’s lives better. That’s what real educators do. She has earned the respect of her peer leaders. She teaches courses for Southern Nazarene University’s graduate education programs. I’ve even served on a dissertation committee with her and seen the thoughtfulness she puts into leading that process. 

Just last week, principals in my district were scheduled to re-train on the Marzano evaluation system, as they are required to do every few years. There was a mixup at registration, not just with Mid-Del leaders, but with principals from a few other schools as well. April took them off into another room and led their session with no hesitation. I received several messages from my principals saying how impressed they were with her.

Show up. Stand in front and do the job, even when you weren’t expecting to have to do it. That’s what leadership looks like.

To paraphrase one of my principals, Dr. April Grace is the real deal.

2016: A Real Opportunity

December 31, 2015 1 comment

Yesterday morning, The Atlantic published an article online titled, Can Schools Be Fixed? Normally, I cringe at articles with titles such as these, mainly because I cringe at the premise that public education is a broken system. Then again, maybe it is.

As a state and as a nation, we are deep down a rabbit hole of expensive reforms that haven’t done a bit of good. For example, the state of Oklahoma has spent millions of dollars with companies such as Battelle for Kids, which manages the convoluted roster verification process in Oklahoma.

By the way, BFK is technically a non-profit, albeit one with $25 million in annual revenue. GuideStar lists the mission of BFK thusly:


If that doesn’t make you want to teach, what does?!

What we’ve spent on lousy ideas is a sunk cost. We can’t get that money back. Eliminating processes such as these, which only hurt the effort to develop and maintain human capital quality teachers, should be a quick priority in 2016, now that those pesky feds have told us we can.

But I digress…

The Atlantic article gave different “scholars of, experts on, and advocates for K-12 education” a chance to give one reason for despair and one reason for hope.  My favorites were Linda Darling-Hammond and Diane Ravitch. Here’s what Ravitch wrote:

Diane Ravitch, historian of American education and author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools

Reason for despair: In my field, public education is under unprecedented attack by a bipartisan coalition that calls themselves “reformers.” It includes the Obama administration, the Republican leadership, the Gates Foundation, the Eli Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, hedge-fund managers, ALEC, and rightwing governors. They seek alternatives to democratically controlled public schools, such as privately managed charters, for-profit charter schools, virtual schools, and, in some states, vouchers for religious schools. The reformers’ excessive reliance on standardized testing as both the measure and goal of schooling has corrupted education. Because of the reformers’ attacks on teachers, experienced teachers are retiring early, and the number entering teaching has dropped sharply.

Reason for hope: The reasons for hope are two-fold: first, the public doesn’t want to abandon its community public schools. No district or state has ever voted to privatize its schools. Second, every so-called “reform” has failed to promote better education or equal opportunity for the neediest children. Neither charters nor vouchers consistently get better results for children, unless they exclude the weakest students. Measuring teachers by student test scores has been a costly failure. The great majority of the public admires their public schools and their teachers and wants them to be better, more equitably funded, not eliminated. If democracy works, these misguided “reforms” will be consigned to the ashcan of history.

This is why I have hope, the absence of which is hopelessness. Even though I was an English major in college, I’m not so much of an existentialist  that I feel hopeless. There are still things we can do to improve education in this country in general, and Oklahoma in general.  We are making strides in policy, but we have miles to go before we sleep.

After reading the Atlantic piece, Rob Miller issued the following challenge to his fellow Oklahoma bloggers:

Limiting myself to one reason for despair and one for hope, as the article’s contributors have done, is a tough task. It’s like asking someone to sum up the movie Clue in under a minute.

Despair: Oklahoma is dealing with at least a $900 million shortfall for the 2016-17 school year. This comes on the heels of cuts in state aid for the remaining six months of the current school year. These figures just add to the $900 million that Oklahoma school districts have lost in state aid since the 2008-09 school year.

All this, and state leaders are calling it an opportunity. Seriously.

You know the drill. More students. Unfunded mandates. Biggest cuts to schools in the country.

We’ve been beating the drum for years. Until now, no one who has the power to reverse the trend has been listening.

As Oklahoma school districts enter 2016, many face the prospect of losing three percent of their state aid, or at least the portion that goes through the formula. For large districts, this could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. For some, it could be millions.

The state leaders who created this crisis with tax cuts for the wealthy and tax credits for the energy sector blame the state deficit on OPEC. Sure, that’s part of the equation. It’s not the whole story, though.

My despair comes as someone who has to deal with the funding crisis head on. We cut positions after the 2002-03 shortfall. Many of those haven’t been added back. We cut positions after the 2009-10 shortfall. Again, we haven’t added all of those positions back.

This story is true throughout Oklahoma. Someone at the state level will need to act with courage to keep this problem from worsening.

Hope: To be fair, I can name two state leaders who seem to understand the folly of continuing to do what we’ve been doing for years: State Treasurer Ken Miller, and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.

First, this from Miller (as published in the Oklahoman):

Miller argues that conservatives in the Legislature ought to stop trying to eliminate the state income tax, and instead work to revamp a tax structure that is currently premised on an economy that no longer exists. “The ideal tax structure,” he wrote, “would broadly apply low rates to generate a stable and diversified revenue stream that does not unfairly burden property owners, discourage consumption or reward idleness and retains the profit motive that drives entrepreneurship.”

Meantime in the near term, he says any additional tax cuts should be revenue neutral — with lawmakers getting rid of $1 of spending or credits for each dollar cut in taxes.

Given the significant fiscal challenges, tackling a new approach to budgeting will likely have to wait until economic conditions improve. But he said it has to happen at some point, and he’s right. Oklahoma cannot continue to rely so heavily on one-time funds, even if some of those accounts are made up of fee revenue that replenishes annually.

Miller sums it up well in remarks worth remembering: “Eventually, policymakers must start down a path toward long-term sustainability, rather than cobble together more short-term fixes that leave the same problems for future legislatures — until the one-time revenue well runs dry.”

Diversified…what’s that? Basically, Miller seems to be suggesting that our state needs to figure out how to fund public services using a variety of continuing revenue streams. The question is which members of the Legislature have the courage to do it.

Meanwhile, Jones has taken to social media online media to make a similar case.


In an interview with NONDOC, Jones makes what reasonable people would call constructive suggestions.

In February, the governor ordered a freeze on hiring and giving raises. For the last couple of years, our office has been focused on conserving as much as possible to help make it through these tough times — reducing staff and cutting spending. We recently became aware that the very agency responsible for overseeing the governor’s order had given literally millions in raises based on a study.

If we are going to solve the tough problems facing this state, we need to have a comprehensive plan that is fair to all state employees and agencies. Giving themselves raises of 20 percent to 60 percent while telling others to cut back does little (to) build confidence. Solving our financial problems is going to require sacrifice by all.

There are some serious problems with how our state creates a budget. Last year, a small group put it together at the last minute and gave the House and Senate about 24 hours to vote on it. They used one-time funds to hold education dollars flat. They did nothing to halt tax cuts or tax credits that continue to cripple the budget.

Wait, this is supposed to be the part where we have hope.

Does it make you smile a little bit to know that we have 30 term-limited legislators? Some have been what I would consider friends to education. Some have merely said they were. I’ll be honest. I’m happy to see some of these people go, but I’ll be even happier if we have some strong challenges to some of the incumbents who will seek re-election in 2016.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, during the 2014 election cycle, only 49 of 126 seats in the Legislature that were  up for election had contests that went to November. In other words, 77 people were basically elected by acclimation. That’s a heck of a lot of unopposed seats.


If we want to make a difference in 2016, we need to make sure more people hear Jones and Miller. They’re the ones making sense.

If we want to make a difference in 2016, we need to make sure more people – more strong candidates – run against incumbents, who simply aren’t helping the future of this state.

Look, I know the power of #oklaed. We can get the votes. Just a few weeks ago, the people who really care about our state’s children and the people who teach them voted in full force to earn several of us some national blogging awards. Collectively, we had two wins and four second-place finishes in the Edublog awards.

The category for which I won, Best Administrator Blog, kind of surprised me. Especially surprising was that Rob Miller’s View From the Edge came in second. (I don’t know about the rest of you, but I voted for Rob.)

I appreciate the support, and I’m honored to win, but that’s not the important thing to consider here. Two Oklahoma blogs came in first and second. There must have been a heck of a lot of us voting. There must have been a lot of our parents and friends voting too. We won over the likes of George Couros, who is an internationally-renowned writer and speaker.

Do Rob and I really have the two best administrator blogs in the country? Probably not. We just have amazing readers who are passionate about public education in this state.

Now let’s channel that same kind of passion towards making real change.

For one, we need to write more, as Blue Cereal Education is doing. We also need to hold our elected leaders accountable. Those 30 term-limited legislators scare me as much as anything. Some are going to try to make a splash and position themselves for a run at statewide office in 2018.

We need to find the candidates to run against legislators who simply don’t support public education. And we need to vote.

We have the passion. We have the awards.

Now we have the numbers.

Happy New Year.

Make 2016 an #oklaed statement year.

Vouchers: Not a Gift for Students

February 17, 2015 4 comments

Yesterday, two bills proposing Education Savings Accounts Vouchers made their way to committee in the Oklahoma Legislature. In the Senate, SB 609 breezed to its next stop – the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 6-3. There, the impact of the bill will be discussed by the 45 committee members. It’s a much harder hill to climb. Later in the day, the House did not pass HB 2003. The committee failed to advance the bill, even after the House Speaker (Jeff Hickman) came to save the day. It fell by a 9-9 vote. The outcomes surprised me. I would have guessed for a flip to this script, with the Senate voucher bill failing and the House voucher bill passing.

The House bill is pretty much a copy of the measure that Rep. Jason Nelson couldn’t even get to a tie vote. Vouchers will be awarded proportionally to students who can demonstrate certain levels of poverty in order to attend private schools that they still wouldn’t be able to afford. Apparently, that hurt some feelings.

The Senate bill, on the other hand, is a free-for-all. Any student eligible to attend public school would receive a credit for 80 percent of the formula funding that he/she generates for his/her resident school district. They could spend it on anything that loosely counts as an educational expense. This could include books, supplies, a laptop, voice lessons, athletic coaching, field trips to The Louvre, and probably even a Trapper Keeper or two.

Another fun fact of SB 609 is that the SDE would have to figure out how to disburse the other 20 percent as bonuses to teachers in the districts students aren’t attending. The more students who flee your district, the greater your bonus. That makes all the sense in the world. No, nothing could go wrong here at all. Here’s the language from page 10 of the bill:

The remaining twenty percent (20%) of the total State Aid factors multiplied by the Grade Level Weight and the Student Category Weights calculated pursuant to subsection B of Section 5 shall be used by the State Department of Education to provide bonuses to teachers in the respective resident public school districts.

Another way this bill gets fun is that right now, thousands of students don’t attend public school. This measure would add them to the funding formula. This will reduce per-pupil funding.

I get the feeling that this bill was supposed to fail and the other one was supposed to pass. I base that feeling on an email thread among its supporters that circulated widely this morning. Before I had a chance to really analyze what was in it, Rob Miller had written a brilliant piece discussing the outside influence on our legislative process. Even the conservative McCarville Report discussed the email exchange with what seemed to be a measure of disgust.

Normally, I try to post small portions of other bloggers’ work. Tonight is different. This is critical to understand. Our non-compliant legislators are being strong-armed by out-of-state politicians and activists.

The people our state elected to protect us from people from out of state are listening to people from out of state – not to Oklahomans.

Here’s a long excerpt from the middle of Rob’s The Voucher Wolves are at the Door! today:

Later in the day the positive mood was tempered when Nelson’s House version failed to clear the education committee. The following email was part of the same email chain from above. It was written from former Wisconsin House Assembly Speaker, Scott Jensen. Jensen was forced to resign his office in disgrace in 2006 after numerous ethics charges. More about this later. (emphasis is mine)

On Feb 16, 2015, at 10:18 PM, Scott Jensen <> wrote:

Dear Team,

I decided to take my kids out for dessert tonight after the disappointing vote in the House Education Committee. Amazingly, they wanted frozen yogurt despite the single digit temperatures here in Wisconsin.  Now, that I have calmed down, I still have two serious frustrations:

First, the Chair of the House Education Committee cast the deciding vote against a proposal by a membership of the House leadership (Nelson) – a bill that the Speaker and Majority Leader came to the committee to support. As a former Speaker, I find this stunning. At a minimum, Chair Coody should have expressed her concerns with the bill, voted to advance it out of committee but said she would not be able to support it on the floor unless her concerns were addressed. Instead, she felt completely comfortable choosing the education establishment over her leadership team. It is very early in the session for this sort of challenge to the leadership. If the Speaker does not have a swift response to this vote, he can count on chaos for the rest of the session.

Second, when your team is in charge you should never lose a vote. If you don’t have the horses then the bill should be set aside and no vote should be held. I was assured yesterday that a vote would not be held if we were short. Was Rep. Nelson unable to ask for the vote to be delayed so he could address some members concerns? Was Chair Coody so interested in sticking it to her leadership that she went ahead with the vote? Most legislators are conflict avoiders so they are very open to a request to delay the vote on a bill. If we didn’t have the votes, no vote should have been held. That is one of the greatest powers of the majority, deciding when a vote will be held.

If I were Speaker, it would now be a matter of honor to me that the Senate version of the ESA bill pass on the floor.

Whether or not the Speaker and his leadership team choose to instill some team discipline, we should do so. I would recommend that several organizations on this email list conduct robocalls and emails to voter lists educating them about the votes by Representatives Coody, Nollan, Thomsen, Casey and Henke. The message should be simple: these Republicans joined with liberal Democrats to defeat an important education reform supported by conservatives and the Republican leadership. Their voters should know they joined with the liberal Democrats to cast the deciding vote against giving parents more educational options. The ramifications of this vote should echo in the House chamber.


Notice Jensen’s liberal use of the terms “team” and “we”? As far as I can tell, Mr. Jensen has never spent a day in our great state, yet he is inserting himself smack dab in the middle of an Oklahoma policy debate.

I find it frightening that Jensen would write, “I was assured yesterday that a vote would not be held if we were short.” Assured by whom and for what reason? Why would ANY Oklahoma legislator ASSURE Jensen of ANYTHING!!!!

And who invited him to be part of our damn team anyway? Who is this PUPPET MASTER who is attempting to coerce and threaten our state legislators into compliance?

Well, let’s just say, Mr. Jensen has quite a colorful history. His illustrious past: rabid voucher supporter, unethical scoundrel, convicted felon…you know, just the type of person we want influencing our elections and controlling our legislative process.

There are lots of articles about Mr. Jensen online. Here is a small piece from one that ran recently titled, “Wisconsin’s Voucher Vultures.”

After a couple of years, he ran for public office himself and served as an Assembly representative for fourteen years, including as the speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly for some of that time.

Then he fell from grace as he was charged and convicted of three felonies in an abuse of power and illegal campaigning scandal that rocked the statehouse and landed several top pols in jail. After more than four years of legal maneuvering, Jensen managed to get a mistrial declared by the state court of appeals and appealed all the way to the state supreme court in order to move the venue of the next trial to his home county of Waukesha.

Eight years after Jensen was caught illegally using legislative staff and resources to work on partisan campaigns and charged with felony misconduct in office, he made a deal with Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel to plead guilty to one misdemeanor, pay a $5,000 fine, reimburse the state for legal costs incurred on his behalf before he resigned, and promise to never run for public office again.

But that hasn’t kept Jensen out of the state capitol. These days he can be seen prowling its halls, unelected but more powerful than ever, throwing his influence around. For the past three years, he’s been working as a high-paid lobbyist for school vouchers, raking in over $200,000 a year to do the arm-twisting work of the Walton and DeVos families, two of the richest in the nation.

A few moments after Jensen’s email, he received a response from Leslie Hiner. She is also a school choice PUPPET MASTER who is pulling strings in states across America from her perch at the Friedman Foundation. You can read more about her

From: Leslie Hiner []
Sent: Monday, February 16, 2015 10:25 PM
To: Scott Jensen

Subject: Re: Tonight’s ESA Vote in the House

Yes. As the former chief of staff to the Speaker in Indiana, I agree with Scott 100%. Wisconsin and Indiana are leading the nation in advancing educational choice, and this has not happened by accident. Leadership matters. Time for Oklahoma’s leaders to draw a line in the sand and act decisively. Until then, Oklahomans need to get the word out about who is, and who is not, supportive of families in Oklahoma.

Thank you, Scott.

And thanks to Jason Nelson for a stellar testimony today. Well done.
Friedman Foundation

Wow, don’t you think it is great that these out-of-state corporate lobbyists care so much about the children of Oklahoma? To the point that they are urging Oklahoma’s leaders to “draw a line in the sand” and “instill some team discipline” to ensure this voucher bill gets passed “for the kids?” Or else, “they can count on chaos!”

Are you starting to see the connections? We have Damon Gardenhire from the Walmart Family Foundation in Arkansas, with voucher lobbyists in Wisconsin and Indiana, along with conservative propagandists and law makers in Oklahoma, working together to implement legislation that very few people in Oklahoma are asking for.

This is serious business for these people and they are pulling out all the stops to get vouchers passed in Oklahoma. They have the money and influence.

But we have thousands of individual voices. This is why you MUST share this message with all who are concerned about the future of public schools in our state.

Make no mistake, the Oklahoma legislators who voted NO yesterday will face incredible pressure from these voucher wolves to change their vote. They need to hear from us TODAY, TOMORROW, and EVERY DAY until we defeat this legislation in Oklahoma.

Sorry Rob. I know that the scoring experts at CTB/McGraw-Hill would consider direct citation of such a long passage to be plagiarism, but you really nailed this one. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I thought it was fun to see the return of such buzzwords as liberals and education establishment! It’s not even Throwback Thursday! Gee, we’ve sure missed that one lady.

Friends, we need to take back our legislature. It’s not the job of think tanks and disgraced bullies from Wisconsin to hold our elected leaders accountable. THAT’S OUR JOB! The more sway we allow these outsiders to have at our Capitol, the less we have. We pay the taxes. We vote for these people. We have to live with the misguided policies they produce. The least they could do is answer to us! We must fight their robo-calls, their Walton Family Foundation money, and their agenda to destroy public education with our voices, our feet, and our relentlessness.

I’m also interested in the fallout. The political junkie in me loves sneaking a peak of how the sausage is made. Will Coody lose her spot as committee chair? Will this bill come back as zombie legislation next week? How many House Speakers from the Midwest will show up to shepherd the legislation? Will any of the legislators who voted to kill APUSH because it is not tied to state standards see the irony in supporting a voucher education that is not tied to state standards?

I oppose what this group of anti-public education activists call school choice. Vouchers help the people who don’t need help. It puts money in the pockets of people who already have the ability to provide the school setting of their choosing. It does not get the poor and needy into the game, as they love to pretend. Meanwhile, these same reformers attack public schools, tying our legs to anvils in the middle of the lake. When we don’t sink, they add more – because anvils are always funny.


We didn’t choose this. Neither did parents. Nor did students. Let’s not pretend differently or go down without a fight.

OPSRC Board (-1)

In case you’re interested, the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center is down a board member. Former First Lady Kim Henry is no longer listed on their site. I’m not really sure what caused this, but if you plan to attend their open house, this is probably worth knowing.

As as I look at the list of Board members and funding sources, it’s really only the Walton Family Foundation that gives me pause. The rest are real Oklahoma philanthropic groups with a history of working in our communities and our schools. Even NWEA, the co-host of the event, is a reputable group whose services are utilized by many Oklahoma districts.

With the WFF, it’s all about the big picture.

Our core strategy is to infuse competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system by increasing the quantity and quality of school choices available to parents, especially in low-income communities. When all families are empowered to choose from among several quality school options, all schools will be fully motivated to provide the best possible education. Better school performance leads, in turn, to higher student achievement, lower dropout rates and greater numbers of students entering and completing college.

As I’ve said before, WWF is the primary funding source for the OPSRC. Anything they can do for you comes with strings attached. Huge strings.

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They Come Bearing Gifts

If you’re headed to Oklahoma City next week for the third and final Vision 2020 Conference (whoever wins the election will probably rename it), you may have received an invitation to an open house being held off-site for a new statewide service entity, the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center. Before you succumb to their promises of help to your beleaguered school district, however, here’s a little background information.

Last September, if you’ll recall, the State Chamber of Commerce applied for a Walton Family Foundation grant. While the creation of the OPSRC is separate from that effort, it does involve a lot of the same people. At the time, here’s how the Chamber described the purpose of their application:

This grant request will provide funds in the amount of $300,000 over three years for the Oklahoma State Chamber to establish a new 501 (c) 3 education reform advocacy organization under its auspices that is geographically diverse and ambitious in its aims to advocate for an aggressive change agenda within Oklahoma’s K-12 education system. The first year’s grant is for $100,000 to be evaluated and renewed based on fulfilled outputs and outcomes, as specified below.

The new organization under the umbrella of the State Chamber will seek to educate key stakeholders and policy makers in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and statewide on the need for additional reforms that emphasize protecting and expanding school choice, embracing innovative models, data-driven accountability for schools and school leaders, transparency from school districts, addressing the performance of chronically low-performing schools, and an unwavering commitment to improved student achievement. An annual report will measure progress on outputs and outcomes, with quarterly updates to keep WFF informed along the way.

The Oklahoma State Chamber will seek out additional philanthropic and business community support and funding to ensure the new reform advocacy organization achieves financial sustainability. WFF expects to be joined in supporting the effort by other anchor funders within Oklahoma. The State Chamber will seek support from the Inasmuch and George Kaiser Family Foundations, as well as funding commitments from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Arnold Foundation, among others.

The first six months will be spent establishing non-profit status, appointing a board and hiring an executive director. As the new entity hires and executive director and executes its own business plan, the Oklahoma State Chamber will continue to provide staff, office space and other resources for the new entity, and will bring its reputation and strong credibility both at the State Capitol and in the business community.

For more on the State Chamber’s ongoing educational pursuits, see this Tulsa World piece.

I’ve written multiple times about how being a non-profit is not the same as being a charity. Technically, ACT and The College Board are non-profits. So is Measured Progress – our state’s currently in-limbo testing company. Non-profit corporations make money – in some cases a lot of money – without having to pay taxes for it.

The OPSRC is trying to recruit members (they aim for charter school members and rural school districts) but they have recently sent invitations to every school superintendent to come visit them in their new offices during Vision2020 because they are the “most helpful educator support organization you never heard of.”

The application also said that the Chamber was looking for a “super star” from the national reform movement.  Again, though it’s a different organization, OPSRC’s “rock star” executive director is Brent Bushey, who arrived in Oklahoma last year. Aside from being a former Teach for America teacher, he has shallow experience in public education. (I know – I had you at TFA). A glance at his LinkedIn resume reveals a career mostly in IT. Actually, if you Google “Brent Bushey Walton Family Foundation,” the first hit is Damon Gardenhire’s LinkedIn profile. Seriously – it’s not even Bushey’s own LinkedIn page. How does that happen? I Googled myself last night (for fun) and the results were all about me (real me, not blogger me).

Gardenhire, if you’ll recall, used to work for Superintendent Barresi – first unofficially, then officially. When he left for the WFF, here were his comments about Oklahoma school administrators in an email acquired by the Tulsa World.

Just keep in mind that the local supts will keep doing this on every reform until choice is introduced into the system. Until then, they will continue to play these kinds of games. Only choice can be the fulcrum to make them truly responsive. A big part of why I took the Walton gig was because I see real promise for bringing positive pressure to bear that will help cause a tipping point with enough (superintendents) that the ugly voices like Keith Ballard will begin to be small and puny.

As the OPSRC website shows, the Walton Family Foundation is not the only funding source for our new friend in Oklahoma. If my information is correct though (and it usually is), WFF provides the vast majority of money for this venture. Having the involvement of other organizations gives the Center in-state credibility. Without Walton money, the Center would cease to exist. As a member of the tangled web, Bushey’s marching order this past legislative session was to get Senate Bill 573 (which would have opened up all school districts in Oklahoma for profiteering charters school companies) passed. It failed, but will surely resurface next year.

The real danger of OPSRC is they are currently recruiting members – mostly rural school districts. Their model is that charter schools and districts join them and receive services related to finance, legal, technology and communication. These, of course are services that districts already receive from a variety of other acronyms – groups that don’t aim to turn public schools into a revenue stream.  It’s what they previously have done in Arkansas – with strings attached.

The mission of the Arkansas Public School Resource Center is to support the improvement of public education by providing technical support and advocacy services on behalf of public schools with a special emphasis on charter schools and rural districts.

APSRC’s values reflect what the organization expects of itself through the services provided to members and the values of the charter schools and rural districts serving the students of Arkansas.

Members of APSRC sign a commitment to the following values:

  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Choice
  • Diversity
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Quality
  • Sustainability

If you sign on with the OPSRC, you get the WWF. You get Gardenhire. You get the honor of working with people dedicated to silencing the “ugly voices” and selling school choice throughout Oklahoma. Choice sounds harmless enough, but it is code for vouchers and charters – and not the kind of charter schools we see in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, either. The Foundation, and by proxy, the Center, want to open the door for profiteering charter school companies to take over schools in urban, suburban, and rural areas. That’s always been the end game of the reform movement.

One other thing I want to add is that a group I treasure, the Oklahoma Policy Institute, published a guest post from Sarah Julian, the Director of Communications for the OPSRC, yesterday. What Julian wrote is consistent with OPI’s submission policies, but I want whatever overlap there is between my readers and theirs to fully understand what’s happening here. When someone offers you a smile and a piece of candy, it might be wise to get your Stranger Danger alerts ready.

Willfully entangling your school district with the OSPRC is more or less hopping into bed with the Walton Family Foundation – a group that wants to replace us all with charter schools (until robots become a viable option). It’s not paranoia if it’s true. If you want information about how to get charter school startup money from the WWF, visit their website. This is their priority. This is why they’re here.

Proceed with caution.

The Tangled Web

September 17, 2013 9 comments

This morning, The McCarville Report (TMR) released a document showing that the Oklahoma State Chamber has applied for a Walton Family Foundation (WFF) grant. The grant application lists the project name as “Start-up Funding for Business-Education Reform Advocacy.” Here is how the Chamber describes the purpose of the grant:

This grant request will provide funds in the amount of $300,000 over three years for the Oklahoma State Chamber to establish a new 501 (c) 3 education reform advocacy organization under its auspices that is geographically diverse and ambitious in its aims to advocate for an aggressive change agenda within Oklahoma’s K-12 education system. The first year’s grant is for $100,000 to be evaluated and renewed based on fulfilled outputs and outcomes, as specified below.

The new organization under the umbrella of the State Chamber will seek to educate key stakeholders and policy makers in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and statewide on the need for additional reforms that emphasize protecting and expanding school choice, embracing innovative models, data-driven accountability for schools and school leaders, transparency from school districts, addressing the performance of chronically low-performing schools, and an unwavering commitment to improved student achievement. An annual report will measure progress on outputs and outcomes, with quarterly updates to keep WFF informed along the way.

The Oklahoma State Chamber will seek out additional philanthropic and business community support and funding to ensure the new reform advocacy organization achieves financial sustainability. WFF expects to be joined in supporting the effort by other anchor funders within Oklahoma. The State Chamber will seek support from the Inasmuch and George Kaiser Family Foundations, as well as funding commitments from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Arnold Foundation, among others.

The first six months will be spent establishing non-profit status, appointing a board and hiring an executive director. As the new entity hires and executive director and executes its own business plan, the Oklahoma State Chamber will continue to provide staff, office space and other resources for the new entity, and will bring its reputation and strong credibility both at the State Capitol and in the business community.

The last thing this state needs is another non-profit established to “advocate for an aggressive change agenda” in education. This is all code for creating a foot patrol to steer legislators and other key stakeholders towards very specific agenda items. Chief among those is school choice, which after all these years, is still nothing more than cover for diverting money into private schools on behalf of people who are already paying for that. The WFF is but one of the funding sources for the soon-to-be created Organization. The other foundations listed in the introduction are like-minded in their support of reforms that have nothing to do with improving education.

The proposal also lists desired outcomes of the grant, and hence, the Organization. Reviewing them adds both clarity and questions:

Outcome 1: Permanent Establishment of new advocacy organization. By November 1, 2013, the Oklahoma State Chamber will establish a fully functioning education reform non-profit in Oklahoma City.

Outcome 2: Board adoption of business plan – By November 30, 2013, Board will review and/or revise and approve business plan (drafted by executive director).

Outcome 3: 2014 Legislative Agenda – By the beginning of the legislative session, the new nonprofit will unveil its 2014 legislative agenda, along with collateral communications materials that explain core principles, advocacy mission and importance of key reform issues to Oklahoma’s economic success.

Outcome 4: 2014 Legislative Agenda – By the end of the 2014 legislative session, 50 percent of Oklahoma lawmakers will express support for the key provisions of the legislative agenda, core principles and advocacy mission.

Outcome 5: 2015 Legislative Agenda – By the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, all key legislative leaders will have attended a meeting to learn about the 2015 legislative agenda.

Outcome 7: 2014 Research Projects – By the end of 2014, the research projects of the new organization will have been disseminated to all members of the legislature, the Governor, the State Superintendent and the State School Board.

I wonder what happened to the sixth outcome. It must be with those 18 minutes Nixon lost.

We don’t know what the legislative agenda is that the Organization will be pursuing, per se, but we can be certain it isn’t one driven by the interests of Oklahoma parents. For that matter, it won’t be driven by Oklahomans at all. This is the ALEC agenda, the Jeb Bush FEE agenda, the Michelle Rhee agenda. The proposal decries not only the loathsome Education Establishment, but also the temerity of previous reform efforts, specifically those championed by Governor Fallin’s former Secretary of Education, Phyllis Hudecki:

While Oklahoma has organized a business-education coalition in the past called the Oklahoma Business Education Coalition (OBEC) it has recently lost its drive for reform, and has not been geographically diverse overall. A new approach seems to be required. The State Chamber has a proven track record of pro-business reforms and advocacy for bold education reforms (it recently led the charge to legislate a statewide charter authorizer and to form a statewide recovery district for low-performing schools, among other key reforms). However, the State Chamber has not been able to devote as much bandwidth to education reform issues that a separate organization, under its guidance and with its support, could. This provides a chance for a true statewide entity that focuses on innovation and choice within Oklahoma’s education system, as well as data-driven instruction, improved student achievement, accountability and transparency. While Oklahoma forged new territory with a package of reforms passed between 2008 and 2010, the status quo has effectively pushed back against further reforms because there has been no organized voice fighting for additional change. The timing seems right for a new statewide entity to help tackle additional reforms.

That’s where this whole thing became a page-turner for me. In July, Hudecki resigned from Fallin’s cabinet to return to OBEC. She was replaced by a reformer with national stature in the movement (Robert Sommers). I don’t know if news of this proposal provides any more insight into that transition than we had during the summer, but we can’t help but wonder – especially since one of the names on the WFF application is Damon Gardenhire, who used to work for Superintendent Barresi.

There was a time when OBEC drove reform in Oklahoma. School leaders didn’t always agree with what the organization wanted, but there was always a seat at the table for them. The new Organization seems as if it will be one letter (E) shorter. It’s just a business and billionaire coalition for education reform sans educators. The Chamber further trashes OBEC in this representation of the proposal’s pros and cons:

Strengths: Weaknesses:
Focused on policy reform outcomes rather than vague pronouncements. Initial success highly dependent on recruitment of strong Executive Director candidate.
Geographically diverse – in contrast with previous business reform efforts in Oklahoma, which have been tied closely to one MSA. Attention must be paid to right mix for board members to ensure clear school choice and reform focus.
Tied to the State Chamber’s human and capital resources, Potential candidate for ED from outside the state will face challenges related to idiosyncrasies of Oklahoma’s culture and rural-urban political mix.
Affiliated with the State Chamber’s strong credibility and clout at the State Capitol and in the state’s business community. There is a strong possibility that the formation of this new statewide entity will weaken or lead to the dissolution of OBEC, which could be perceived as a weakness. However, OBEC has lost most of its visionary leadership and clout recently.
Focused on Oklahoma specific research to inform policy decisions.  
Dedicated to evaluating, protecting and improving prior reforms.  
Connected to business leaders for influence and ideas to address reforms to Oklahoma’s education system.  

One more thing I think I need to mention is that on page two of the grant application, the Chamber states that “a key part of the effort will also focus on recruiting a ‘super star’ from the education reform movement nationally, an individual with a proven track record of successful project management and consensus building.” They’re looking for a rock star.

Any ideas about who that could be?

Flush with Bears and Lies

January 22, 2017 1 comment

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

President Donald J. Trump
Inaugural Address, January 20, 2017

I don’t discuss national politics here very much. Whatever influence I have is limited to the state of Oklahoma. I can’t tell you much about the state of public education in Maine or Oregon. I haven’t researched it. I haven’t lived it.

I have lived in Oklahoma all my life though, and I’ve yet to see a time that we were flush with cash, as President Trump said Friday. I’ve worked in public education for 24 years, and I don’t believe that we’ve left our students deprived of all knowledge, either.



Public education advocates (me included) often share the table from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing that Oklahoma schools have endured the deepest cuts in state funding in the country. The table also shows that while we aren’t exactly alone, more than 20 states have increased funding for public schools.

The CBPP includes a more detailed breakdown of the funding data:

Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools — in some cases, much less — than before the Great Recession, our survey of state budget documents over the last three months finds.  Worse, some states are still cutting eight years after the recession took hold.  Our country’s future depends crucially on the quality of its schools, yet rather than raising K-12 funding to support proven reforms such as hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding access to high-quality early education, many states have headed in the opposite direction. These cuts weaken schools’ capacity to develop the intelligence and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs.

Our survey, the most up-to-date data available on state and local funding for schools, indicates that, after adjusting for inflation:

At least 31 states provided less state funding per student in the 2014 school year (that is, the school year ending in 2014) than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold.  In at least 15 states, the cuts exceeded 10 percent.

In at least 18 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period.  In at least 27 states, local funding rose, but those increases rarely made up for cuts in state support.  Total local funding nationally ― for the states where comparable data exist ― declined between 2008 and 2014, adding to the damage from state funding cuts.

While data on total school funding in the current school year (2016) is not yet available, at least 25 states are still providing less “general” or “formula” funding ― the primary form of state funding for schools ― per student than in 2008.  In seven states, the cuts exceed 10 percent.

Most states raised “general” funding per student slightly this year, but 12 states imposed new cuts, even as the national economy continues to improve.  Some of these states, including Oklahoma, Arizona, and Wisconsin, already were among the deepest-cutting states since the recession hit.

During this time of recession and austerity, I take no comfort in knowing that other states share our misery. One reason is that Oklahoma continues doing the one thing that makes times like these harder.

Not only did many states avoid raising new revenue after the recession hit, but recently some have enacted large tax cuts, further reducing revenues.  Four of the five states with the biggest cuts in general school funding since 2008 ― Arizona, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin ― have also cut income tax rates in recent years. (See Figure 6.)  Another state that cut taxes deeply ― Kansas ― also has imposed large reductions in general school funding, but the precise size of those cuts cannot be determined because the state eliminated its funding formula earlier this year.


When it comes to politicians bashing public schools, I can’t let lies lie. We are hardly flush with cash. President Trump knows this, yet minutes after taking the Oath of Office, he said it anyway.

Unfortunately, if the lie is repeated enough, it will gain traction. That’s Trump’s plan. Lie and repeat. Don’t even rinse.

Trump’s son Barron attends a private school in New York where tuition is $45,000 annually. Does he want to compare our schools with that one? Does he not understand that public schools have nowhere near that kind of funding? To be fair, neither do most private schools.

The second prong of the lie – that we deprive our students of all knowledge – is simply ridiculous. Public education critics typically look at international test scores to show that other countries’ students outperform ours. Data without context is a dangerous thing, though.


American schools serving students with a similar level of poverty to Finland outperform Finland’s schools. American schools serving students with a similar level of poverty to Canada outperform Canada’s schools. And Estonia. And Australia. And New Zealand and Japan. Yes, Japan.

We have amazing schools in this country and in this state, but they don’t all exist to serve the same purpose. Nor do all of the countries to which we compare ourselves serve all students. They don’t all serve special education students. Comprehensive high school education for all is not a guarantee in every nation.

These facts don’t matter to Trump and the school reformers drooling over his election. His lie feeds the narrative that public schools are failing. It feeds the sycophants too, which brings me to Betsy DeVos.

Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Education has paid her way into his Cabinet. She’s very open about this.

Trump may have run against big money in politics, but his choice for Education Secretary has made no apologies about her family’s political spending. Betsy DeVos has been a major financial backer of legal efforts to overturn campaign-spending limits. In 1997, she brashly explained her opposition to campaign-finance-reform measures that were aimed at cleaning up so-called “soft money,” a predecessor to today’s unlimited “dark money” election spending. “My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee,” she wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. “I have decided to stop taking offense,” she wrote, “at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.”

You and I don’t have a chance of being heard by the likes of Trump and DeVos. Collectively, all of us who will read this post probably don’t have the wealth of any member of the DeVos family. For years, we’ve been fighting the Kochs and Waltons in this state. She just adds to the oligarchy.

That’s why I found an exchange between DeVos and Senator Bernie Sanders during her confirmation hearing this week very interesting:

Sanders: “Mrs. DeVos, there is a growing fear, I think, in this country that we are moving toward what some would call an oligarchic form of society, where a small number of very, very wealthy billionaires control, to a significant degree, our economic and political life. Would you be so kind as to tell us how much your family has contributed to the Republican Party over the years?”

DeVos: “Senator, first of all thank you for that question. I again was pleased to meet you in your office last week. I wish I could give you that number. I don’t know.”

Sanders: “I have heard the number was $200 million. Does that sound in the ballpark?”

DeVos: “Collectively? Between my entire family?”

Sanders: “Yeah, over the years.”

DeVos: “That’s possible”

Sanders: “Okay. My question is, and I don’t mean to be rude. Do you think, if you were not a multi-billionaire, if your family has not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the Republican Party, that you would be sitting here today?”

DeVos: “Senator, as a matter of fact, I do think that there would be that possibility. I’ve worked very hard on behalf of parents and children for the last almost 30 years to be a voice for students and to empower parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, primarily low-income children.”

Well which is it, Mrs. DeVos? Do your donations buy you unlimited access inside the walls of influence, or did you get there because you’re so involved and well-informed?

I really need not to focus on this. Yes, she made the ridiculous statement that we need guns in school because of grizzly bears, but this moment of comic relief is a distraction. I downloaded I don’t know how many bear memes and gifs while I’ve been working on this post. I admit it’s slowed me down.a-polar-bear-fell-on-me

evil-bears-with-rainbowsDeVos also was confused by the difference between proficiency and growth. She had no clue what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is. Is it possible the Secretary of Education-nominee has never heard of the country’s foundational special education law?

Presidents have a right to appoint the people to their Cabinet who they feel are best-equipped to execute their policy initiatives. That’s what winning the election gets them. The Senate has to confirm those appointments, though. Merely going through the motions of a confirmation hearing, however, does not meet that standard.

I’m bothered by many of the things DeVos believes about education. I’m more concerned, however, about the fact that she simply has no clue what she’s doing. Understanding the difference between proficiency and growth is so easy that a dentist could get it!

Oh wait, bad example.

Maybe the Senate will deny DeVos. On the other hand, she’s put a lot of money into the campaigns of many who will make that decision. Even if they don’t confirm her, she’ll be replaced with someone else who shares the Trump mindset and who is willing to repeat the lie.

We must fight back with truth.

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