Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Education and Party Unity - A Jumbo Shrimp Oximoron?

Well guys, the challengers for Janet Barresi's State Superintendent perch are already out of the gate!  In a very sad state of affairs, Oklahoma's own OCPA at once cast a very hard line on the candidacy of newly-announced State Superintendent challenger Donna Anderson, calling her the "Status Quo" educator.  I can only assume this is in part because not only is she, well…uh… a 'democrat', but also because she is not an acolyte of the coveted Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship. 

It doesn't seem obvious to me how we can find the best person for the job of producing education policy for all Oklahoma children by distilling that office down to a single-issue party-line, created and promoted in part, by the same folks that signed the Common Core State Standards into Oklahoma law without reading them.  

Unfortunately, ROPE learned the hard way after supporting Janet Barresi in her bid as State Superintendent - EDUCATION IS NOT A PARTISAN MATTER!  We voted with our party registrations and got slapped hard enough on the face to make us cry - for four whole years!

ROPE's Board is populated with very conservative, God-fearing, Republican women.  None of us could conceive of ever becoming card-carrying Democrats ourselves - especially after last year's Democratic convention when attendees voted to throw God under the bus and continue to embrace the killing of unborn babies en mass.  Clearly, it would seem we have nothing of substance in common with these kinds of ideals. 

I think I speak for the entire board, however, when I say that we wouldn't hesitate to vote for a Democrat for State Superintendent if we thought he or she would actually put education first in in their commission of this office in Oklahoma - and not the Foundation for Educational Excellence out of Florida.  

Pat McGuigan, in his article on Anderson's candidacy says, "Anderson believes the ACT would be a preferable method for evaluating students leaving high schools, rather than the End-of-Instruction tests that have been controversial in recent years. In response to a question from CapitolBeatOK, Anderson said she believes – even without a legislative mandate – counselors should encourage more students to take the ACT. She said the ACT would make a good exit test for all students." 

ROPE has been saying this for years!  This simply makes good policy and fiscal sense since we already pay to administer the tests! 

Why pick a candidate apart for not supporting the Henry scholarship when that doesn't apparently fully characterize her thoughts on choice in education?

McGuigan reports, "In response to another question from CapitolBeatOK, Anderson said she that although she opposes the Henry Scholarships and use of “public dollars for private schools” she did not agree with targeting parents of special needs children in a lawsuit seeking to strike down the scholarships.  Although she opposes recent moves toward choice that includes private schools, she said “there is a place” for private schools, home schools and online education in the educational system".  

Anderson’s website contains the following quote, “Currently in Oklahoma, we are trying to make our schools and students into something they are not,” Anderson said. “The methods currently being promoted have no research based success. We do not need to model education after any other state. We need to be Oklahomans who do the hard work to find our path to success, not run frantically toward unproven methods because of a political agenda.”  

Seriously, how do you oppose that thought? That's a point taken from fact (Janet Barresi's association with Jeb Bush's Foundation for Educational Excellence) and something we actively would support - as we oppose Dr. Barresi's desire to craft Oklahoma education policy from outside the state's borders.  Neither the Common Core nor the PARCC tests they are supposed to assess were tested or studied prior to implementation in Oklahoma.  

Every year, Oklahoma Republicans reinforce the concept of LOCAL CONTROL of education in the state platform.  Every year Janet Barresi has been employed as our State Superintendent, she has forced this concept farther and farther out toward the margins of the Oklahoma Republican political fabric.  Why have a platform for Republicans to stand on if elected Republicans aren’t going to govern on that foundation – and beyond that, why support Republicans if they do not personify Republican ideals just because they have an “R” behind their name?

ROPE knows nothing about Donna Anderson and certainly this is not a campaign endorsement of any kind, just a missive to make us think.  

Why would conservative Republicans even be drawn to voting for a Democrat?  How broken is the system when we can't agree with our Republican State Superintendent on education policy, but the party that was taken over by the hard left Progressives can spawn a candidate with ideals more Republican than those our own Republicans espouse?  

What is education really about?  What's best for adults, or what's best for kids?