Friday, February 26, 2016

ESA's And Dissenting Public Educators - Do You Talk To Your Students With That Mouth?

By Jenni White, Education Director, ROPE2.0

Though we've not spent time addressing it yet this session, the Education Savings Account bill (HB2949) authored by Nelson (et. al) has already made it's way through the House Education Committee where it passed by one single vote.

ROPE has always supported ESA's. We simply believe in the ability of parents to direct the education of their children and we'll continue to maintain that stance in the face of all the vitriolic nonsense public school proponents will dish out (I'll get to that in a second).

If you're unfamiliar with the function of ESA's, please see this short video

If you'd like even more information, please see the link to the bill above and look down on the website where this video is found for more specific answers to frequently asked questions about the program.

There is little reason for me to argue the merits of the bill, as the information above should suffice for those with legitimate interest in helping children get the education they need, so what I'd like to do is address the manner in which the public education community attacks the people who support this issue every year. 

I addressed some of the nonsense from last year in a blog, but just recently, Middle Ground (a subsidiary of Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs - OCPA)published an article outlining much of the truly disgusting stuff public education proponents are saying about those who support ESA's this year. I truly suggest you read it. There's a saying for people who use foul language, "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" Well, these are EDUCATORS using this kind of language - about those who support a program that is PROVEN to HELP children. Go figure. Consequently, I guess my question to them is, "You talk to your students with that mouth?"

Rob Miller (Jenks Middle School Principal, named Principal of the year in 2014) felt it necessary to take to his blog to vindicate himself after OCPA brought his behavior to light. "Sorry OCPA, We're Not Going Away" contains the following, 

"I just happen to be one of those people in the world that when I stumble upon a big steaming pile of festering crap I tend to say, "Hey look, there's a pile of sh*t." 

And why not? I mean, if you don't have any real set of specifics or facts to go on, hyperbole and emotion will suffice. I will have to say it takes talent to refer to excrement so many times in one sentence, though. I just have pause to wonder how this helps students?

He then goes on to assert, 

"The core message of his diatribe is that we, as professional educators, should check our first amendment rights at the door."

No, that's not the 'core message' of the OCPA article. No, the core message of the OCPA article is that, teachers/administrators used to be held to a very high standard of behavior inside the community. Teachers/administrators were revered; to be held in positions of esteem as those who molded the next generation for the good of the nation and mankind. Everyone is granted 1st Amendment protection - even public school teachers and administrators. 

Here's the rub - it's all in how you go about expressing those 1st Amendment rights, isn't it? If you can't state your opinion without vulgarities and personal ad hominem attacks, is what you have to say really worth hearing? Why should we listen if you can't communicate your thoughts/opinions/ideas in a reasonable way that promotes discussion, not relies on shock value and emotion to pull in the reader?

I honestly don't understand how a public employee - paid by tax dollars - who uses this kind of language in a public blog (how you comport yourself in private is entirely up to you) can be held as a pillar of the community. Is this the kind of comportment we want students emulating? I truly hope not.

Honestly, I think Principal Miller, and the other public school employees described in the Middle Ground blog, make an absolutely case-closed argument as to why ESA's are absolute necessity in Oklahoma, NOW.