Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Janet Barresi Channels Scarlett O'Hara

Capitol Beat OK just released a great article, "State Education department spokesman Barresi anticipates low costs for implementing "Common Core".

Since ROPE's interim study for the House in October, ROPE, and others, have asked over and over again about the costs of implementing Common Core in Oklahoma. Thank goodness we now know what they are! They are "anticipated" to be low! As a taxpayer, I feel a great sigh of relief, since big government programs tend to cause tax increases for poor little taxpayers like me.

According to Mirriam-Webster, the definition for "anticipate" (verbatim) is; to speak or write in knowledge or expectation of later matter such as "The cost turned out to be higher than anticipated."

Is Janet Barresi channeling Scarlett O'Hara through her Communications Director? I can't help but see a parallel between his comments on the topic here and Scarlett's famous line, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow." Is the OSDE 'anticipating' in order to avoid 'thinking'?

Though I could counter Gardenhire in Capitol Beat OK's article point by point, I will simply ask the reader to acknowledge the fact that there are absolutely no solid figures even alluded to by the Department of Education in answer to the question posed by McGuigan. None. According to Mr. Gardenhire, everything's cool - they've got it covered and we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about the cost of the Common Core to the state.

Awe inspiring. Did the OSDE let all their number crunchers go with their first round of firings? Even the Federal Government has the GAO. Why are no concrete numbers available? Other states have them.

After reading “TPS: New teacher-evaluation system cost estimates misrepresented”, in the Tulsa World this morning, Gardenhire’s pat answers to McGuigan are off-putting.

The article addresses concerns by the Tulsa Public Schools that Dr. Barresi and the OSDE misrepresented the amount of money it would take to implement Tulsa's teacher evaluation system. In fact, Jana Burk of TPS has this to say,

"We are willing to give them everything we have free of charge, and Marzano (the company the Superintendent favors) has all kinds of things that would need to be developed, which would cost something. That's the way they make money is that they give away their evaluation framework but then they sell the professional development services, video libraries, on-demand technical assistance, software and hand-held devices for principals to use."

Well, that doesn't sound good. Did Dr. Barresi inflate the cost of the TPS system in order to make the system she preferred to use seem less expensive? Who knows, but the article didn’t particularly inspire confidence in Dr. Barresi's ability to ride the Common Core horse through the gate of "anticipated low" costs (or effectively evaluate programming).

Adding to our concern is an incident that occurred after Dr. Barresi publicly called into question our research at the Common Core Interim study. Frustrated by several of Dr. Barresi's remarks following the study, Representative Kern asked the Superintendent to specifically inform her as to which of our facts were incorrect.

Several weeks later, the department provided a paper critiquing our slide presentation, not the 21 page research paper with 9 pages of citations, given to herself and members at the study.

Consequently, not only had the OSDE questioned issues answered in our paper, but they provided absolutely zero references as documentation of their 'critiques', outside those to the Common Core website or Common Core-associated organizations such as Achieve.

This lack of academic rigor in the OSDE (does this fall under the category of supreme irony?) could end up costing tax payers millions of dollars. As with Marzano, the Superintendent favors Common Core. It certainly makes one wonder if she might then underplay Common Core's costs...

Although I'd rather she didn't, Dr. Barresi and company can continue to parrot the contents of the Common Core website until the budgetary cows come home, but by then, Oklahoma's taxpayers will be gone with the wind.