Sunday, January 11, 2015

Congratulations Joy Hofmeister...?


Tomorrow, January 12, 2015, Oklahoma's new State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister will be sworn in for duty. I'm not sure whether to Congratulate Joy or the state of Oklahoma first.

I may choose for Oklahoma to receive heartier congratulations actually, as Mrs. Hofmeister will have a doozy of a time cleaning up the OSDE after the door slams behind the last superintendent, making entrance to the job of State Super, decidedly un-super for at least the near future. In fact, Mrs. Hofmeister may need




before


yet either way, there is no denying that tomorrow can't help but bring a new day for public education in Oklahoma.

Though I could probably write a more significant statement about our outgoing state superintendent, I'll not. Instead, I'll make note of a few significant lessons learned under the tenure of Dr. Barresi because to forget history is to doom it to repetition:
  • public school reform should NOT come from ex-presidents and/or private foundations outside the state of Oklahoma and then forced onto teachers, parents and schools as though written on a tablet by God simply because there might be a federal level post in it for someone somewhere
  • micromanagement is NOT the way to achieve public school reform, as teachers tend to leave the profession in droves when assured that after a four year college degree and successful state certification they have no real clue about what to do in their classrooms, and as such, must be told what to do during every minute of every day 
  • continuing to force administrators/schools to test their students over and over using methods that not only do not work, but can't provide the data the state insisted it have in order to comply with state law, did NOTHING but create animosity among everyone from school personnel to parents
  • deciding the top position in public education meant, not only dismissing everyone with an opposing view, but name-calling and publicly flogging dissenters, creates such animosity that you come in dead last in a race where one candidate didn't even mount a campaign 
Today, as I write this missive, I have more hope than I've had in four years about the state of public education in Oklahoma. Unlike her predecessor, Mrs. Hofmeister has already made numerous attempts to reach out to ROPE (even having us appear before her transition team board), and, while we might not agree on every issue, we have been treated with dignity and respect during every encounter. This ALONE is more than we ever received under the previous OSDE regime and that ALONE raises our hopes immensely.

In that vein, we have asked Superintendent Hofmeister to consider a few items, including:
  1. Invite a presentation from Iowa Basics and/or Standford testing to present options for the next test cycle outside the Common Core sphere.
  2. Request a full audit of the OSDE and publish the results on line.
  3. Form a committee (to include parents) to review the standardized tests Oklahoma students will take to assure that PASS are being tested and there are no behavioral test questions (as per HB3399)
Again, Mrs. Hofmeister has listened and we'll be happy to assist her with our requests in any way she should ask.

In closing, this year, ROPE's legislative agenda is not centered on a single issue, but several issues relating to our main philosophy of educational freedom and parental rights. This year, we will be asking you to follow us as we
  1. Try to stop the grading of teachers via surveys and high stakes testing better known as TLE. Here is a blog from principal Rob Miller and our blog covering the issue.
  2. Upgrade school choice in Oklahoma to include ALL those who would like to participate. We believe the way to do this is through the establishment of Education Savings Accounts.
  3. Continue to fight for privacy protection for students from data collection.
I'm sure something will come up along the way - it always does - but these are our main interests for legislative calendar 2015. In addition, we will continue to watch the standards re-write process and report what we know. Our newly ELECTED superintendent needs to be involved in this process. This will be a trick as the current standards re-write committee has locked the office of Superintendent out of the meetings, so it will be necessary to watch and see how Mrs. Hofmeister's imput is added and speak out vociferously if she is not.

Don't forget to continue to follow us on Facebook and/or sign up for our email alerts on the homepage of our website www.RestoreOkPublicEducation.com. We look forward to working with Mrs. Hofmeister during the next four years, and we look forward to being able to call on you for help during this years' upcoming legislative session (between February and May).