Posts Tagged ‘Moore’

Breaking the Silence

December 3, 2015 2 comments

You have to watch this video. It’s only 12 minutes long. It’s a group of Moore Public Schools teachers talking about the struggles of students and of teachers. It finishes with each discussing why they stay.

If you receive my blog by email, click on the link and open the video. It’s that good.

As you probably know, before coming to Mid-Del in August, I spent seven years working with these people. They’re my friends. The teacher who opens the video, Ray Robinson, was my roommate during a conference in the DC area in 2013. He’s an interesting guy with a hell of a backstory. He loves his school. He practically lives up there during the summer, off the clock, for free.

That’s what teachers do.

What breaks my heart is the student teacher who loves the district but has done the math, and has decided to leave the state. That’s a real story too.

Teachers working second jobs. Real.

Teachers leaving the profession in tears because they want to support their families better. Real.

Teachers staying, even though they qualify for government assistance. Real. Trust me. I’ve been there too. Unlike this teacher, we took the help. That’s when I decided to leave the classroom.

The people in this video all work in Moore. They could just as easily work in Mid-Del, Mustang, Medford, or Muskogee, where I’ve also worked. They could even work in districts that don’t start with an M. These are the stories of teachers in Idabel and Woodward; Sand Springs and Duncan; Tulsa and Oklahoma City. These are rural, suburban, and urban school teachers. Moore just happens to be the one telling the story right now.

Speaking of my friends from Moore, Dr. Jason Perez today published an article on Hot Chalk talking about the importance of teachers advocating for the profession; their students; themselves. For those of you who aren’t aware, Jason was a principal for many years before becoming the Executive Director for TLE at the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

I’m proud of my friends in Moore.

Thank you for sharing your struggle.

Thank you for using your words.

Use your words

As for the rest of us, we need to make sure our legislators see this video. We need to make sure the governor sees it. As Dr. Romines says at the end, we really don’t care if it’s the one-cent sales tax or something else, fund education. Now. Quit making excuses.

Money and respect. That’s all it will take to fix education. Maybe it sounds trite, but our children deserve better. So do the people who spend every day with them.

Break the silence. Speak up. Tell your story. And share until you can’t share anymore.

24 Hours Later, a New #1: Barresi and Moore

I spent the last three weeks counting down the 20 biggest reasons to replace Janet Barresi when we go to the polls on Tuesday, knowing the whole time what would be the number one reason. Once it posted, I changed my mind within four hours. Thanks, Rob Miller! Thanks Janet Barresi!

Over the past year, I’ve tried to avoid writing about the Moore tornado because that is such a personal tragedy for so many people. I’ve known all along that Janet Barresi made promises she never intended to fulfill. I’ve had more messages from employees and patrons of the district than I can count. I think – even before Rob’s big revelation yesterday, if you’re in the footprint of that storm and have dealt first-hand with Barresi and the SDE since the tornado, this has been your #1 reason to elect someone new all along.

As an example, I give you this paragraph from an email I received last week from a Moore teacher:

To say that JB hasn’t been helpful is an understatement.  From the day she showed up uninvited at our district-wide meeting (on May 22–not even 48 hours after the tornado), took a seat on the stage (also uninvited), and then trotted out empty promises about all of the assistance SDE would provide…to the problems we had during the summer getting deadlines extended or communication that we needed…she and her staff have been far more hurtful than helpful.

If you’ll recall, about a month later, she sent an email to all MPS employees. This was equally intrusive, as she just took upon herself to send a message – a poorly written one at that – to a district that continues to function out of temporary workspace. She received no consent from the district to do so. Many found the action alarming.

Now she’s comparing the work we have to do as educators to rebuild the state standards to what Moore has experienced over the last 13 months. It’s not comparable, and it’s just not acceptable. One thing is the result of the folly of politicians. The other is the devastation of nature’s wrath. I think MPS Superintendent Dr. Robert Romines (who responded in the comments on Rob’s blog) is completely on target. Here’s an excerpt:

My response to Dr. Barresi’s comments will focus on Moore and its community because I am here and that is what I know. Our school district and its community are known for their resilient spirit, unwavering support for others, and determination – that is who we are and that is who we will always remain. These are attributes that we will continue to display in the event of tragedy or in something as simple as change. The 2500 plus employees of MPS are committed to doing what is best for our students, and we simply ask that the State Department of Education rely on the people in the trenches to help with making the changes needed over the next few years. We can do this without telling others “where to go” and asking for certain groups to “pony up”. Over this past year, not once did I have to tell anyone “where to go” or “pony up” and the school district and its people have accomplished much success! MPS and other communities have proven that great things can happen with the right attitude, spirit, and determination. In the future, I would humbly request that no one from the State Department of Education or any other agency use Moore Public Schools, our tragedy, and our rebuilding projects to help their cause.

This is precisely why I have avoided writing about Moore very much. I don’t think the district needs other people telling their story for them. Most who live and work there just keep their heads down and focus on the task at hand.

All that said, this is the most offensive action by Janet Barresi yet. She’s campaigning now as if it’s a good thing that the legislature and governor dumped the Common Core, but the truth is that she fought desperately to save it. Regardless of how you feel about the standards, you must acknowledge her lie here.

You also have to admit that her characterization of the SDE’s labors as something of a holy war is a bit disconcerting. Hers is the language of a delusional ideologue. She’s so committed to her cause that she doesn’t even listen to her own words anymore. She has no class and no clue. This may be all that overshadows her incompetence.

As for Moore – if all of those 2,500 employees vote – and everybody they know votes as well – June 24 will be the day all Oklahomans can say goodbye to Janet Costello Barresi. We won’t even tell her where she can go.


May 22, 2013 Comments off

I don’t feel like writing much this week. One thing that comes to mind is that billionaire foundations spend a lot of money on tests and reforms that serve political interests rather than children. If these people really want to help kids, maybe they can help fund safe rooms and other unmet building needs for schools. A billion for tests or a billion for safe rooms? Every school in Oklahoma would love to have one if the funds were available.

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The Real Meaning of “For the Kids”

Every education discussion about policy, reform, funding, or anything else eventually dissolves into both sides saying some version of “It’s for the kids.” In times such as these, we find out what it really means. Story after story of teachers protecting children with their own body in Moore yesterday reminds us that the very essence of education is ensuring that tomorrow is better than today.

After this teacher used her own frame as a shield over children, she explained herself to CNN by saying, “It’s just our job.”

Remember that our classrooms are full of potential heroes who hope they never get that chance.

Pray. Hope. Cry. Collapse. Wish. Help. Do what you need to do. For the kids, their teachers, their families, and their community.

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