Posts Tagged ‘Education Establishment’

Question Everything

September 25, 2012 4 comments

In case it hasn’t become just perfectly clear, there’s a lot of frustration in schools and beyond about the manner in which the SDE has been conducting their business. We’ve reached the point now where everybody in the Education Establishment looks askance at the True Believers and vice versa. Everybody is working for the children, or nobody is. It depends who you ask. And what day you ask it.

Two articles today – one in the Tulsa World, and another in the Oklahoman – typify this problem. In short, school districts are fed up with the lack of straight and consistent answers that a service agency should be giving them. While captains are being forced from the ship (or jumping off voluntarily) at the SDE, somebody continues steering the ship directly into the iceberg.

In all matters education reform, the SDE continues to expect the public to accept the unacceptable. A commenter on the Tulsa World article points out that when questioned:

Damon Gardenhire’s response is typically combative. The discussion here IS about the process, not the rules, and should not be dismissed. Barresi’s office never misses an opportunity to take an antagonistic posture toward local districts.

Combative is one word; maybe evasive is a better one. Here were Gardenhire’s comments:

That’s actually in the rules that were approved by the state board and the Legislature last spring. We can have disagreements, but there’s another discussion about the process, and I would like to keep them separate. The Legislature passed the law; the board passed the rules; and the governor signed those rules. 

Do you notice how Gardenhire completely abdicates responsibility for the A-F rules? The Board and Legislature approved the rules, and the governor signed them. Who wrote them, Damon? Keebler elves? Is that why they’re so tasty?

Teachers and administrators are mad. School boards and legislators want answers. Nobody is buying what the SDE is selling anymore, and it’s causing quite the tone at meetings across Oklahoma. Wherever an SDE official goes to meet with professional educators, the tone quickly turns caustic. Even last week’s leadership summit between Barresi and school superintendents turned into something other than what they signed up for.

They’ve brought this on themselves. They have earned no benefit of the doubt. The fury and outrage will continue until they begin to operate with a modicum of understanding of what it’s like to work in public education. At this point, the Education Establishment is right to question everything: accountability reports, budgets, new interpretations of federal guidelines, and the integrity of those remaining at the SDE.

Who Are the Education Establishment?

September 21, 2012 4 comments

A refrain of the education reform movement is that every good idea is blocked by the Education Establishment. When writers write this, they use capital letters – which tells you it’s a pretty big deal.

When I entered the education profession nyma years ago, I never planned on becoming part of the big bad EE and upholding the status quo in which teachers bully children, principals treat parents like criminals, and superintendents spend money all willy nilly on fluff and nonsense. Fortunately, I had the good sense to find willing mentors who would help me find comfort in a world in which I could replace my silly ideals of helping all children learn with a steadfast devotion to the effort to keep my friends and me employed at all costs.

Oh wait, that’s not what happened at all. I had the good fortune to know good teachers, visionary principals, and well-versed superintendents. I had supportive parents (usually) and students with about the right mix of curiosity and rebellion to keep me interested while I was still figuring out what I was doing. Along the way, as I matured, I became a leader within my building and pursued opportunities to both help students prepare for life after school and help teachers transition into the profession. I learned the value of collaboration and that nothing good comes without a willingness to take risks.

All over our state are education veterans – thousands of them – who support those just starting out. They belong to organizations like OEA, AFT, CCOSA, and OSSBA – ones that advocate for their specific roles in education. They also belong to organizations like NCTM, NCTE, PDK, and ACTFL – ones that advocate for the improvement of instruction in their content areas. These teachers, administrators, and even board members know that doing what’s best for children means taking an advocacy role for the profession as well.

I don’t care if the label is meant to be something negative; I accept and wear it with pride.

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