Monday, April 30, 2012

SB1797; The Governor, The House and ROPE

As we've chronicled over the past many number of weeks, you have tried valiantly to help us stop SB1797 by Clark Jolley of the Senate and Lee Denney of the House.  In case you've missed all the drama over the bill, please see a progression of sorts to be found on the front page of our website in the documents we have posted there on the issue.

Unfortunately, we lost the vote on the House floor - it wasn't even close (Yays 61, Nays 22, Excused 15, Vacant 3).  I have posted the vote at the bottom of the email.  Please don't forget to THANK those House members who voted AGAINST the measure and to remember those who voted FOR it when it comes time for selecting replacements.

Part of the reason the vote wasn't close was probably a bit of apathy and fatigue on the issue - from those of us calling - and on the part of the legislature who, I think may have just gotten tired of the issue and finally didn't care whether it was part of the NCLB waiver or not.  A large part of the reason, however, was the fact that Katie Altshuler in the Governor's office, took one of our Action Alert/Updates on the bill, copied it and then pasted it into a new email in order to debunk it.

I'm not going to go over her email because I think it speaks for itself.  I think the loudest speaking part of all, however, is the fact that while Ms. Altshuler is certainly willing to take calls from LEGISLATORS on the bill, those of us 'serfs' who simply vote and then have to pay for all this bureaucratic nightmare, aren't worthy of even a few minutes to discuss our concerns.  I wonder how it feels to be so incredibly elitist?

We spent quite some time going over why in the world the Governor was SO interested in this bill.  Here are a few interesting tidbits we found out last week:
  • In 2009, Clark Jolley authored yet another piece of legislation similar in nature: Senate Bill 1111, the “Educational Accountability Reform Act, which established the Educational Quality and Accountability Board (sound familiar?) which is to be pulled in with Teacher Prep to create this new board.   
  • (UPDATE) "SB1111 was vetoed by Gov. Henry on May 1, 2009.  In conference Jolley took over SB222 and inserted the language which established 3 things:  P-20 Council (sect. 2), the Quality Assessment & Accountability Task force until Dec. 2010 (Sec 4) and the Education Quality & Accountability Board (Sec. 5).  Rob Miller was appointed to The Education Quality & Accountability Board  by former speaker of the House, Chris Benge.  Sheila Groves- past president of Okla. PTA was the Parent group appointee, and Kathy Taylor was appointed the chair.   The Chair of this Board was also the one in charge of convening the task force created in section 2."
  • As eluded to by Rep. Ed Canaday in the House Floor video on the bill, an article in the Tulsa World also indicates this board NEVER met. 
  • Jenks Middle School Principal Rob Miller said, "I'm not advocating that we lower the cut scores so the kids pass," he said. "But if a big piece of our oversight of our state testing program has not been active for three years - and now we're holding kids responsible for not passing tests that we haven't provided the legal oversight of - to me, if I'm the parent of an 18-year-old, I'm going at that." 
  • Enter Representative Todd Thomsen (the Representative who voted yes on SB1797 in A&B Education Committee though he told us he would vote against the bill, allowing the bill to pass to the floor).  Thomsen runs HB2970 this session to allow students who don't pass their End of Instruction (EOI) exams, to be remediated and reassessed in order to still obtain their high school diplomas should they flunk their EOI's.  Goodness, how timely...if you are a senator who passes a bill regarding an agency that never met to create tests and cut scores that never happened, how can tests in Oklahoma even be considered legitimate?  Oh, but wait, kids can get out of them if need be.
UPDATE: SB1797 has passed the Senate and will be enrolled for the Governor's desk (4/1/12). Currently, SB1797 is in the Senate, possibly being added to - if so, we'll keep you updated.  Please know, our objections to the bill haven't changed, and have in fact been added to.
  •  If the Clark Jolley bill from 2009 that seems familiar resulted in a board that didn't even meet, why this bill then?  We're with Rep. Canaday - will this one meet?
  • SB1797 hands over ALL the authority for testing/cut scores and professional development to the Governor's office.  What happens when that office changes hands?  What is the point of having a State Department of Education?
  • Inside the NCLB waiver, authority for the PARCC tests (which, as much as they might like to make fun of us - see Todd Thomsen in the 1797 floor video - are an absolute fact) and professional development are held at the level of the SEA (State Education Authority - State Department of Education).  What a bureaucratic nightmare this will be if this bill passes.  It will be like the old Abbot and Costello radio show, "Who's On First".  One bill will give authority to one agency and or group and another to another group. 
  • After the fact, I realized that it won't matter who has authority for 'cut scores' on our state tests now that Supt. Barresi has gone all in on Common Core State Standards and their testing arm PARCC - any cut scores will be developed at the NATIONAL level, just like everything else having to do with our Republican education reform!
  • "Both consortia (PARCC, SMARTER) are engaging higher education in designing the tests, and in setting cut scores that reflect college expectations." 
UPDATE: Here is an explanation about the different entities in SB1797 -
The Office of Accountability is a completely different entity than the Educational Quality and Accountability Board. The Office of Accountability is NOT charged with reviewing tests, testing contracts, cut scores, or anything of the like. They simply use the data to create a report for parents in Oklahoma on how their schools are doing.  They are not aligned with the Educational Quality and Accountability Board in any way. 

The Educational Quality and Accountability Board was tasked with reviewing test necessities, which has prompted many questions from Mr. Miller:

Did the SDE provide the required data to the Secretary of Education? Has her department submitted all test specifications and blueprints according to law? Have they submitted all testing contracts for review?  Has she submitted the SDE’s process for the establishment of cut scores?  If not, who has authorized the final scores each year?  Has the SDE developed a process for ensuring the cut scores are tied to the rigor of tests and develop a method for determining when cut scores shall increase?  Have all of these items been submitted to the Secretary of Education’s Office over the past three years, or even in the past 15 months while she has been in charge?

Here is a copy of the email ROPE sent out about SB1797:

It is official, SB1797 is on the House Calendar for tomorrow morning at 8:30.  I know this is short notice, but please take a few minutes to call your REPRESENTATIVE and let he or she know that you are opposed to this bill and why.  (if you don't know you're representative, you can find them at the bottom of the House home page)

For full disclosure, we were asked by Representative Denney last week to support this bill.  She believes that we are incorrect and that this bill does not have anything to do with the NCLB Waiver.  Though she certainly has the right to disagree with us, it still seems uncannily odd to us that so many aspects of this bill relate back to the waiver if it doesn't have anything to do with the waiver.

Not only that, but in a recent fiscal analysis by Jonathan Small of the OCPA, monies allotted to education from the state could be saved by not training teachers twice (why does a teacher get a degree if we're just going to turn around and give them more OJT?) and having teacher preparation kept in the LOCAL district where the principles and superintendents know better the needs of their schools and students.

Though this bill may be called a 'consolidation' bill (because it consolidates Teacher Preparation and the Office of Accountability) it also creates yet ANOTHER Commission (of which Oklahoma has over 500 - all of whom at least pay members for travel expenses to meetings!).  Why do we need an entirely new commission?

In short, there are a number of better ways to contend with local education issues at the local level than codifying a new commission in law in order to keep the Department of Education from determining the cut scores of state tests (Sandy Garrett was accused of manipulating the scores required for a student to be considered "proficient" on state tests, dumbing them down to allow the state to meet NCLB mandates and receive continued funding).

Please CALL TODAY and ask your state representative to VOTE NO on SB1797.


Here is a copy of the email Katie Altshuler sent out  on behalf of the Governor's office about SB1797:

Dear Representatives,

Please see our response to the ROPE Action Alert re/ SB 1797.

ROPE COMMUNICATION

It is official, SB1797 is on the House Calendar for tomorrow morning at 8:30.  I know this is short notice, but please take a few minutes to call your REPRESENTATIVE and let he or she know that you are opposed to this bill and why.  (if you don't know you're representative, you can find them at the bottom of the House home page)

For full disclosure, we were asked by Representative Denney last week to support this bill.  She believes that we are incorrect and that this bill does not have anything to do with the NCLB Waiver.  Though she certainly has the right to disagree with us, it still seems uncannily odd to us that so many aspects of this bill relate back to the waiver if it doesn't have anything to do with the waiver.

RESPONSE: This bill has absolutely nothing to do with the NCLB waiver. The NCLB waiver has never even been discussed throughout the development of the legislation.

Not only that, but in a recent fiscal analysis by Jonathan Small of the OCPA, monies allotted to education from the state could be saved by not training teachers twice (why does a teacher get a degree if we're just going to turn around and give them more OJT?) and having teacher preparation kept in the LOCAL district where the principles and superintendents know better the needs of their schools and students.

RESPONSE: OCPA has not taken any position whatsoever on this legislation. 

Though this bill may be called a 'consolidation' bill (because it consolidates Teacher Preparation and the Office of Accountability) it also creates yet ANOTHER Commission (of which Oklahoma has over 500 - all of whom at least pay members for travel expenses to meetings!).  Why do we need an entirely new commission?

RESPONSE: The legislation will replace two (2) existing commissions (The Commission for Teacher Preparation currently has twenty-three (23) members and the Education Oversight Board of the Office of Accountability currently has nine (9) members, for a total of thirty-two (32) members) and replaces it with one (1) commission made up of seven (7) members. So it will reduce the number of existing boards and commissions and reduce the number of board members that currently qualify for travel reimbursment.  The Governor's Secretary of Education currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Accountability.  Under this legislation she will serve in the same position over the Office of Education Quality and Accountability.  The legislation combines two (2) existing entities into one (1) which will result in a reduction in the number of state agencies. In addition, the legislation includes a fifteen (15) percent savings mandate.

In short, there are a number of better ways to contend with local education issues at the local level than codifying a new commission in law in order to keep the Department of Education from determining the cut scores of state tests (Sandy Garrett was accused of manipulating the scores required for a student to be considered "proficient" on state tests, dumbing them down to allow the state to meet NCLB mandates and receive continued funding).

RESPONSE: Please see talking points on the bill below that explain why the Governor has partnered with Senator Jolley and Representative Denney on this important legislation:


Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (EQA)

SB 1797 (Jolley/Denney)

The purpose of the bill is to consolidate government agencies and simultaneously enhance accountability for teacher preparation, education data analysis, and evaluation of education policy. Results will be provided annually to the governor and legislature.

It strengthens the Teacher Preparation Commission and Office of Accountability by combining them into one entity, under the direction of the Secretary of Education, and streamlines existing functions and operations to achieve efficiency. The bill includes a fifteen (15) percent savings mandate.

The new entity will also be responsible for setting cut scores for state tests, autonomous and independent from the State Department of Education, which will insure checks and balances in accurately reporting student achievement progress.

Major Provisions

·         Transfers the existing Office of Accountability from the Regents of Higher Education to an independent entity and combines it with the Teacher Preparation Commission and renames it the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (EQA).  Current functions of the Teacher Preparation Commission will be continued under the new office. Restructures the Education Oversight Board and renames it the Commission for Education, Instruction Quality and Accountability.
·         The Secretary of Education shall serve as the Chair of the Commission and oversee the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability.
Commission (7 Members):  
·         Secretary of Education, Chair
·         Common Education Teacher
·         Higher Education Representative
·         School Administrator
·         Parent
·         Business Representative
·         Business Representative

Office of Accountability Duties Combined into EQA:
·         Makes recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on methods to achieve an aligned,  seamless system from preschool through post-secondary education.
·         Identifies districts not making satisfactory progress toward compliance with the Oklahoma Educational Indicators program and recommend appropriate corrective actions to the State Board of Education concerning each district so identified.
·         Responsible for the Oklahoma Educational Indicators Program and the annual report required.
·         Reviews and make periodic public comment on the progress and effectiveness of the State Board and State Department of Education, the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the public schools of this state concerning the implementation of the Oklahoma Educational Indicators program.
·         Analyzes the revenues for all systems of education and the expenditure of common education revenue, giving close attention to expenditures for administrative expenses relating to the common schools and make reports to the public whenever appropriate.
·         Submits recommendations regarding funding for education or statutory changes to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Governor whenever appropriate
Department of Education Duty Combined into EQA:
·         Set common education test cut scores so the State Department can't set the bar that judges their own performance. (existing function of the Department of Education)
Teacher Preparation Commission Duties Combined into EQA:
·         Beginning July 1, 2014, The Commission for Education, Instruction Quality and Accountability shall have authority for approval and accreditation of teacher education programs and assessment of candidates for licensure and certification according to the provisions of the Oklahoma Teacher Preparation Act. 
·         The Commission shall include the State Board of Education in the process; review and assess approved, accredited and new programs of teacher education; and encourage studies and research designed to improve teacher education.
·         The State Board of Education, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education shall have the authority to submit proposed rules regarding teacher education program approval, accreditation, and for teacher assessment to the Commission. 
·         Before adopting any rule pertaining to teacher leadership and effectiveness TLE) or professional development, the State Board of Education shall solicit comments from the Commission for Education, Instruction Quality and Accountability, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education on the proposed rule. 
Teacher Preparation Duties Transferred to the Department of Education:
·         Teacher Preparation has traditionally done some of the teacher professional development, but in recent years has had no funding to do so. They are in agreement to move this function from Teacher Prep to the Department of Education, which allows the EQA to focus on Teacher Preparation programs (prior to classroom) and the State Department to focus on Teacher Quality time (once in classroom).
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you, Katie


Katie Altshuler, Policy Director
Office of Governor Mary Fallin
2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Suite 212
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105


Video of the vote can be found here:
Please note that we had spoken in person to all those in bold.

YEAS:   61
    Billy                    Hilliard             Nollan              Shannon            
    Brown                Johnson            Ortega             Shelton           
    Cannaday        Jordan              Ownbey           Sherrer           
    Cockroft            Joyner               Peters              Shoemake          
    Condit               Kirby                 Peterson          Shumate           
    Coody               Liebmann           Proctor            Stiles            
    Cooksey            Lockhart           Pruett               Thomsen           
    Denney              Martin, Sc.        Renegar           Trebilcock        
    Derby                Martin, St.         Richardson       Vaughan           
    DeWitt               McCullough      Roan                 Virgin            
    Dorman             McDaniel, C.     Roberts, S.       Watson            
    Fourkiller           McDaniel, J.     Rousselot          Wright            
    Glenn                 McNiel             Russ                 Mr.Speaker        
    Hall                   Morgan             Sanders           
    Hamilton           Murphey            Scott             
    Hickman            Nelson             Sears             

 NAYS:   22
    Banz                  Dank              Key                     Schwartz           
    Bennett              Enns               McDaniel, R.       Terrill           
    Blackwell          Hardin             Moore                 Walker            
    Brumbaugh       Holland            Newell                 Wesselhoft        
    Casey               Jackson           Reynolds          
    Christian           Kern               Ritze             

EXCUSED:   15
    Armes              Hoskin              Morrissette        Quinn             
    Cox                 Inman                Mulready           Roberts, D.       
    Faught             Kouplen            Osborn              Williams          
    Grau               McPeak             Pittman           
   
CONSTITUTIONAL PRIVILEGE:    0