Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Janet Barresi Believes You're a Liberal If You Disagree With Her?


I watched the excellent video made of the 2nd District GOP meeting with Linda Murphy and Janet Barresi (Thank you for sharing Don Krumme). I came away with several thoughts, not the least of which is the meme:

1. So businesses are SCARED they can't find workers for their jobs and that is why we must push School to Work and Common Core? What happened to On The Job Training provided by the company? Did you know that even early engineers were trained OJT? But then, that would be expensive for the company. Wouldn't it be better for them if the state paid the cost of their OJT and they just got the 'trained' worker? Gosh, how can I get someone trained for free to start my farm?


2. At 54:00 into the video Dr. Barresi tells the crowd that "Governor Fallin is directing me" to work closely with Robert Sommers, Secretary of Education and THE WORKFORCE (hired in from Ohio after Phyllis Hudecki resigned - which is also when the job title was changed to add THE WORKFORCE) to make sure - in essence - Oklahoma's children are trained for jobs. So it's Governor Fallin - intent upon pushing her School To Work initiative for the National Governor's Association - a national organization that does not promote initiatives good for specific states but initiatives that expect to get states on COMMON ground. Is that what America is about? Common? I thought it was EXCEPTIONAL!


3. "Rigorous Standards will transform communities" Dr. Barresi says after speaking with great affection for US Grant High School in Oklahoma who has - according to her - made leaps and bounds of improvement. Of course we are ALL ecstatic when students and schools do well, but here's the question; how do we know they are doing well? The A-F grading system is SO flawed that there is really no way of knowing exactly what it means for schools to get either an A or an F. Not only that, but isn't it the job of the COMMUNITY to grade the schools and NOT the state?


4. Finally, ROPE is liberal? We disagree with Dr. Barresi vehemently. We're liberal? ROPE's board is populated with mothers who are all registered Republican voters. I can't count the number of people who have unfriended ROPE's Facebook page because of our level of CONSERVATISM. Is education about Republican or Democrat or is it about what's best for Oklahoma kids? Superintendent Barresi's seeming necessity to reduce all of Oklahoma education policy to the point of PARTISAN POLITICS shows me she really has little idea about the concept of education policy in any substantive form and has no business being elected for a second term.

Part 2 of the video has not yet been released. We look forward to hearing the kinds of questions Dr. Barresi entertains from this even - and her answers...


*I would like it understood that we do not intend this to be a personal attack on Joel Robison.  We have no disagreement with Joel as a person.  We merely intended to point out the inconsistencies in Dr. Barresi's statements versus her actions.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Stop Common Core in Oklahoma in TWO EASY STEPS!


Thank you to ALL those that participated in our final Common Core Interim Study under the very able guidance of House Administrative Rules Committee, Representative Gus Blackwell.  We had 12 superintendents, principals, professors, teachers and parents give their testimonies November 5, 2013.

Now, here's where the hard part begins!

First:  If you REALLY want to stop Common Core in Oklahoma and return public education to local control, RUN FOR SCHOOL BOARD IN YOUR AREA.

We recently had a WONDERFUL visit with a lovely group of PTO moms.  They are very active and very disappointed that their new Superintendent is pushing Common Core and all the other education 'reforms' promoted by our Governor and State Superintendent to the nth degree.  It's important to remember who hires district superintendents - THE SCHOOL BOARD.  So, what if you had a really great, conservative group of school board members 100% sold on the idea of local control?  You could legitimately make a stand against the state for control of your own district.  True, many 'reforms' are in state law, however, a few quotes come to mind:
  • We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5.29
  • "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."  Thomas Jefferson
  • "Men must be governed by God, or they will be ruled by tyrants." William Penn
  • "Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants." Benjamin Franklin
As I have begun to opine in nearly every forum into which I'm invited of late, it seems as though we have come to the crossroads of tyranny and freedom.  While I do not enjoy advocating breaking the law, I do not advocate bowing under unlawful oppression either - a situation in which I believe we surely find ourselves in many areas of our lives, to include public education.  There are few who could really study Common Core and not see a direct parallel with the Affordable Health Care Act - they are both laws that seek to oppress a majority of citizens in order to uplift a minority of citizens - NOT at all a legitimate form of governance.

Many school board elections are won on fewer than 1000 votes!  Most are won by an even smaller margin.  These elections happen in YOUR COMMUNITY. Voters are your friends and neighbors!  If you could win ANY election, this would be the election, therefore I submit that YOU SHOULD run.

Now don't say you don't have time or you don't have the money - these are ALL things that are transient and eminently solvable.  Politics at ANY level is won by THOSE THAT SHOW UP!  We can no longer rely on others to do our work for us (or trust me, I would have long ago!), we MUST be the ones to do what is right and to take back our public schools.

Here is the information you need to BEGIN THIS JOURNEY NOW!

Visit the Oklahoma Election Board and download the School Board FILING PACKET.

THE FILING PERIOD
Opens 8:00 A.M., December 2, 2013
Closes 5:00 P.M., December 4, 2013

THE ELECTIONS ARE HELD 
Annual School Election - February 11, 2014 
Annual School Runoff Election - April 1, 2014 

For FOUR YEARS I have cajoled and begged and pleaded for you to run.  For FOUR YEARS I have tried to explain the importance of these elections.

I am asking you to realize that God gave us our form of government through the Pilgrims (it's a great story, take time to read it to your family on Thanksgiving) and go to God NOW. Pray about it! Submit if you realize God is calling you to this high office.  We will do everything we can to find and/or nurture a support network for you to get your campaign off the ground.  It will be hard work to do it right, but YOU CAN DO IT. The election work is but a short time to put in for a seat at a table where you can exert a needed influence in your community.

Second: We have spent hours collecting, collating, editing and uploading video and written testimonies of the Common Core Interim participants.  I took my own video, ran out of space on my phone and battery in my camera and did not get video for ALL those that spoke.  I did, however, make sure ALL testimonies that came to me, were formatted and transferred to our Scribd account for legislators and others to read.  Here is a link to our website where all the videos, with their included testimonies, have been uploaded as a kind of a 'one stop shop'!

PLEASE, take the time to send your senator and representative links to the videos and the written testimonies found in the paragraph above.  If you don't want to send links to all, pick out a few that really speak to you and send those - but MAKE SURE YOUR REPRESENTATIVES and SENATORS see these!  Let them know that you are a SINGLE issue voter and this will be an issue come November.  Do not threaten or be ugly - THERE IS NO NEED FOR THAT!  Just be kind, but firm in your communications.  Here is an option,

Dear Representative (or Senator) ______,
 
I am writing to you today to express my concern regarding the Common Core State Standards written into law before they were even available for Governor Henry and the legislators to read.  Though Oklahoma law makers agreed to the standards in order to get Race to the Top funds, Oklahoma has never received a DIME of RTT money, making the Common Core an unfunded mandate in my district. (here's the time to tell them if your district has passed a school bond, raising your property taxes)
 
(if your children have been affected by standards, tell them how)
(if you're a teacher and you've been adversely affected by the standards, tell them here)
 
Please respond to this communication and tell me if you would be willing to either assist in writing a bill to stop the Common Core here in Oklahoma, or vote to stop Common Core in Oklahoma should one be written and voted on next session.  
 
While I very much appreciate your service to our district and to the state of Oklahoma, if you are unable to comply with my request, I will be unable to vote for you in the next election, this issue is of such great importance to me. 
 
Thank you again for your time and your service.  I look forward to hearing we can work together on this issue, soon. 
 
Sincerely


If you do not get a response from your legislator via email, call.  Do not get angry or irritated they are not responding - many have jobs and other responsibilities that take them away during their time off.  Continue to try - kindly, patiently - until you get a commitment from them one way or another and then hold them to it.

It will take all of us to turn this ship around and we must do that by GETTING INVOLVED and STAYING INVOLVED!  You can do it!

How Common Core Affects Small Business AND Home Schoolers!


One of the things we here at ROPE have been trying to get people to recognize for some time, is the effect of Common Core on Home School students/families and small booksellers/publishers.

Last week, Oklahoma had it's final in a series of Common Core Interim Studies in the House Administrative Rules Committee Chaired by Representative Gus Blackwell.  November 5th, 2013, teachers, superintendents and parents were encouraged to share with Oklahoma legislators, their feelings on the Common Core.

Of those that participated (and we had 12 individual testimonies) we feel that Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, was one of the most outstanding.  His company produces educational materials for home schools, private schools AND public schools.  Because he is a small niche market, he has an economic message for those pushing Common Core that we believe EVERYONE should hear.  In addition, he is also able to articulate his concerns about Common Core in relation to the home schooling community.

His message is VERY clear - Common Core is forcing small niche booksellers/publishers to show how they are aligned with Common Core in order to keep what little market share they have.  This, in turn, upsets home school parents, many of whom are aware of the dangers of Common Core from a government overreach perspective, and do not want to support booksellers/publishers who align to the Common Core.

His words are concise - his message should resonate with EVERYONE concerned about Common Core in America.  We hope you find his words as enlightening as did we and will find a way to move this message far and wide.  The Chamber of Commerce needs to understand that it's hard to build a pro-business message for Common Core when there is an entire sector of the business world they are not only neglecting, but actively working against by promoting Common Core.

Home schoolers should become more active in the fight against Common Core, because eventually, after they've wiped out public schools as we know them, they'll be at your door.





Sunday, November 3, 2013

Governor Fallin says, "Stop whining or you'll get no more education funds."

I simply must say that I seem to be never-endlessly stymied by the course of Republican leadership in Oklahoma today. 

Here is the latest antic by Governor Mary Fallin, covered in an article in the Tulsa World; Gov. Fallin Counters Critics of A-F Grading System For Schools.  The article begins;

Gov. Mary Fallin is warning educators that continuing public criticism of the state's A-F school grading system may affect whether common education gets additional funding next fiscal year.

"It's not helpful to anyone's cause. It seems to be some opponents are absolutely bent on undermining the credibility of the entire system," said Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz. "The fact of the matter is this grading system, regardless of whether or not you believe it should have been put together differently, is the law."
Last week state Superintendent Janet Barresi unveiled her education budget request for fiscal year 2015, in which she is asking for an additional $174.9 million for a total of $2.5 billion. On the same day, the governor's office spoke out on the A-F issue, urging education supporters to get behind the grading system and stop endorsing a report that criticizes it.
I think we should all ask ourselves why our Republican governor is backing the 'reforms' instituted by a Republican State Superintendent who has so little support for re-election at this point - due in large part to her "my way or the highway attitude" I might add - that a Republican challenger has vastly out-paced her in campaign contributions

To hear our Governor literally THREATEN, not only educators in Oklahoma, but PARENTS and TAXPAYERS is completely out of bounds. She may be threatening educators in this article - and make no mistake, this is a threat (because who apparently steers legislation through the capitol?) - but she is also threatening parents who are against her education 'reforms' as well. 

As I recounted several weeks ago, State Troopers were called during our peaceful, quiet demonstration against Common Core at the Oklahoma History Center - the middle of three "whistle stops" in the state where Governor Fallin announced her intention to run again for Governor. 

Republican or Democrat makes no difference, this is a clear violation of FIRST AMENDMENT rights to dissent. Why should we re-elect someone who is NOT an educator, yet will back a NON-EDUCATOR Superintendent who has implemented national education reform consistently and to the detriment of the LOCAL CONTROL so prized by so many in our state - and proven to be the best method for decades. 

PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE FAR AND WIDE! Please comment to this article and the Tulsa World and let everyone know - especially if you're a Republican - that you do not approve.   

Our only hope is that our Governor will understand well that TONY BENNETT - A REPUBLICAN - was BEATEN in INDIANA over Common Core and education 'reforms' such as A-F grading. 

We can do the exact same thing here in Oklahoma with our own governor. 


Parents are the ones that know best for their children, not non-educator politicians who institute educational policies that limit our children and who threaten before they listen to their constituencies. 

I urge you to read this EXCELLENT article by Pat McGuigan, "The Good News Is That The Bad News About Kansas Was Wrong."  In it, he SHOWS USING SPECIFICS how the REPUBLICAN party in Oklahoma has fallen down on their job - certainly of fiscal conservatism.  Fortunately, there is an election for many of them looming in 2014.

Parents, now is the time to stand! Make your voices CLEAR - you will not be threatened or silenced!  You will not continue to prop up POOR STATE LEADERSHIP!  

There are a lot of really great Republicans in the House and the Senate, but let's make very clear that we will simply not tolerate those that want to tax and spend their way into oblivion - or those that want to force public school districts to do it their way (a way not tried nor tested, a way that doesn't appear to work, but that makes our children guinea pigs every day!) when they don't even have the training to identify the "right" way if it jumped into their lap and bit them on the thigh! 

 

I love this picture!  Yes, this is then Congresswoman Mary Fallin at the Nation's Capitol holding up a sign during the health care debacle.   Yes, she did listen to the people and RETURN the 45 MILLION federal dollars SHE TOOK to attach Oklahoma further to the purse strings of the feds and healthcare reform, but that ear has apparently gone deaf!

Let's let our governor know NOW that she is clearly on the wrong track and must stop immediately, or face the real possibility of losing a gubernatorial re-election bid.

Thoughts on Grading Schools


This is a guest post by Michael Lewis - Science Teacher

Thoughts on Grading Schools A to F
Michael Lewis BA, MA
Science Teacher

As both a parent and a public school teacher, here are some obervations I have.  

What the “Gov.” says:
1. All students have to attend school basically between ages 5 & 16.
2. All students will take a test each year and the grades on that test will determine how good the school is.
3. Based on items 1 and 2 all schools will be graded A - F, and receive funding based on their grade.
 
Some potential problem(s):
 
All children are created equal, but, not all children grow or learn equally.
All children have potential, but, not the same potential in the same areas.
Some kids have great and giving parents.
Some kids have self-centered parents.
Some kids eat healthy.
Some kids are lucky to eat once a day.
Some kids have internet at home.
Some kids don’t even have books at home.
Some kids are “parents” to their little brothers and sisters.
Some kids are “parents” to their parents.
Some kids are motivated intrinsically.
Some kids are motivated Extrinsically.
Some kids have parents who encourage them.
Some kids have parents who don’t particularly care about them.
Some kids are smarter than others.
Some kids wear glasses.
Some kids need glasses but can’t afford them.
Some kids have all the pencils and paper and notebooks they will need.

Some kids can’t afford school supplies because they live in poverty.  I regularly have students tell me they can't afford a new notebook, so, I grab one out of my file cabinet and give it to them.  As do many Teachers.

Some school Administrators spend money on shiny, trendy crap and NOT on current textbooks and class materials.

Some school Administrators hire Teachers that have SERIOUS personal issues BUT the state Dept. of Education “SAYS” they are qualified, and there is a shortage of Teachers.

Some kids wear nice, trendy clothes.
Some kids haven’t had a bath in a week or two.
Some kids are comfortable.
Some kids are cold because they do not have a coat.
Some kids can read and write well.
Some kids can’t even speak English.
Some kids sleep well at night.

Some kids can’t sleep very well because they hear screaming and gunshots throughout the night.

Some kids have parents and family that spend time with them and encourage them and will hold them accountable.

Some kids are left alone because the parents are too busy working trying to make ends meet, but, would much rather spend time with their kids.
 
At first, it might sound like a great idea: Kids get grades, why not give schools a grade. But, then the question comes up, "Based on what?"

Kids are not machinery. You can't replace them when they break down, or get suspended, or are gone from being sick, or vacation, and miss a weeks worth of notes.  Machines are designed by engineers who know that steel and circuitry can withstand tremendous stress and strain and still function with invariant precision. I have students that get upset because their papers are crooked when they staple them together.

If I have a student on a specific learning plan, I test and grade him differently. HOWEVER, the state dept. of Education uses a STANDARDIZED test for all students in a specific grade. This does not make sense to me. Even the IRS uses different forms for different people in different circumstances.

But, it is those standardized tests that determine the grade they give the school.
 
Many classroom gradings are: 90 - 100 = A 80 - 89 = B etc.
 
If a teacher gives a test of, let's say, 20 questions worth 5pts. each and little Billy Bob gets 18 of them correct, his grade would be: 90pts. Which is an "A". But, two days later the Teacher decides to change letter grades to 93 - 100 = A. parents and students would be a little torqued off.
 
Does anyone like it when politicians pass a law to raise taxes RETROACTIVELY? Nope. Similarly, Teachers and Parents do not like it when the Dept. of Education change the rules and numbers AFTER the tests or evaluations have been graded.
 
Yes, there IS a better system, but, NO it is not the school grade value of A - F.
 
So, go ahead and slap that A, B, C, D, or F on the school building because we all know “THAT” will solve the problem.