Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Teachers, Parents Boot Barresi

There are several sayings that come to mind tonight..."When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy", and "You can't win 'em all".  Actually, I think the latter is because of the former.  As Dr. Barresi found out, you simply can't win an election as State Superintendent of Public Instruction if you don't have the support of parents - and most of all - YOUR teachers.

My dad has been in advertising - except for a tour in the Navy after college - his whole adult life.  I remember him telling me early on, that you could get people to buy even the most repugnant stuff if you just sold it right.  Well, Dr. Barresi couldn't have sold hand warmers to Eskimos. 

Honestly, I think that's the main reason she lost; she has no real leadership abilities.  Oh, yes, she was able to tell people where to go alright, but not in a constructive way.  I remember the first meeting I had with Janet after we had helped her win the general election in 2010.  I met her at her campaign office and I said, "Now that you've been elected, we've got to stop this Common Core nonsense".  She looked right at me, cocked her head in that, "oh never fear little person, I'll handle this" kind of condescending manner and said, "Common Core is just the framework we hang curricula on - it's not that big a thing, we've always had standards."  I think I mumbled something about loss of control and federal involvement, to which she says, "I can control this.  I can control the feds". 

I remember thinking at that moment, "Oh cr*%, can I have my vote back?"  But it was too late - and it only got worse from there.  

Over her very short tenure, I've created a long list of Janet's 'missteps' (to be super charitable) in several of my blogs, so I don't need to beat that dead horse, but I think it's entirely fair game to point out that her loss wasn't just about Common Core.  Dr. Barresi's historic (according to my sources, never in Oklahoma history has an incumbent come in last in a crowded primary) loss to Joy Hofmeister was - just as I've characterized the repeal of Common Core in Oklahoma - a perfect storm.  Barresi
  • had a problem telling consistent stories to everyone from teachers to parents
  • appeared to have contempt for everyone from lawmakers to teachers to parents
  • wasn't interested in consensus of any kind unless it was going to turn out in her favor
  • made it clear regularly that it was her way or the highway
  • name-called those who weren't 'on her team' - example; you were a liberal if you didn't agree with her positions
  • became a Chief for Change and worked with Jeb Bush and his Foundation for Educational Excellence on many education 'reform' plans
  • fought for Common Core to the bitter end
  • consistent blame shifting/shaming cycle perpetuated on school administrators and teachers
So many teachers left their jobs in the four years she was in office she herself had to call a task force to study how to bring in more teachers to the Sooner state.  In fact, I remember going to the capitol one day and walking upstream to some of the task force participants leaving.  I wanted to rush up to the group of them and scream, "Until you get rid of our Super, you're not going to bring in more teachers."  Between the testing and the Common Core and the IEP silliness and all the paperwork they were being required to fill out in order to satisfy Federal and state mandates, teachers have left the profession in Oklahoma in droves.  It needn't have taken a task force to figure out why.

Hopefully politicians have learned a thing or two from this race;

Common Core + statist overlord masquerading as state superintendent = big, big primary loss

Congratulations Joy Hofmeister and Doug Cox, we look forward to continued work together not as liberals or conservatives, but educators and parents interested in improving public education for our children.