Thursday, February 20, 2014

Is Oklahoma Education Being Sold to Out Of State Interests?


UPDATE 3/27/14 see bottom of post

As Dorothy chanted "There's no place like home" in reference to Kansas, I feel the same way about Oklahoma.  As a 51 year resident of our fair state, imagine my frustration then, at the following situations occurring in our own Oklahoma education system:

  • Last year about this time, we wrote about the fact that numerous FOI'd emails from the State Department of Education (OSDE) indicated that state education policy was being written by Jeb Bush's Foundation for Educational Excellence (FEE)- particularly Oklahoma's NCLB waiver and the A-F grading system.
  • We then wrote about Oklahoma's new Secretary of Education and the Workforce, Robert Sommers, a former employee of Governor John Kasich in Ohio who also has ties to FEE.
  • John Kraman, the Executive Director of Student Information at the OSDE came to Oklahoma from Washington D.C. where his previous post included working for Achieve, where he was the Lead Research Analyst for development of the Common Core State Standards.
  • And now we have Wes Bruce.  Wes has taken over for the 'retiring' Meredith McBee, Assistant Superintendent for Accountability and Assessments. Wes Bruce was formerly the Chief Assessment Officer for the Indiana Department of Education.  Wes also currently chairs the PARCC Technology Committee (Barresi made Oklahoma a member of PARCC) and served on the US Department of Education's technical advisory Committee.  He was the 2006-7 Chair of the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  He chaired the NCES Forum task force on accounting for student exits, dropout and mobility.  Wes previously served as an administrator with South Bend Community School Corporation, and also served 11 years in the Kanawha County Schools of Charleston, West Virginia.  He has a B.A. in psychology from Rice University and a M.S. in computer science from the University of Charleston, West Virginia. 

In order to jog your memory, Indiana was where Jeb Bush favorite, Tony Benett was State Superintendent until he was fired by Indiana citizens in a snit over his love of Common Core.  He then went on to become Education Commissioner in Jeb Bush's backyard - Florida.  Unfortunately, he had to resign that post after it was found he changed grades of an Indiana charter school to make them look better on the Bush-designed A-F grading system.

March 20, 2014, another new hire was made at the State Department of Education
Lisa Chandler is the agency's new assistant superintendent in charge of assessments.  Chandler earned a Master's Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Texas at Austin.  After 20 years at the Texas Education Agency, she worked as a national measurement consultant for Pearson PLC.
Hmmm.  So first, we have Kraman - a previous employee of Achieve - and now Chandler - a previous employee of Pearson (the world's largest textbook company, the world's largest supplier of Common Core-aligned books, ancillaries and testing!).  

As a longtime resident of the state, I'm incensed.  We have no good Oklahoma candidates for these jobs?  Apparently not - since the latest Barresi hire comes from the same revolving door as all the other employees in positions key to implementing Dr. Barresi's NON-LOCAL, NON-OKLAHOMA education reforms that come via Jeb Bush via President Obama.  Nothing to see here.  Business as usual.  Please drive on.