I am very proud of my hometown newspaper, and have been my entire life. In the 28 March 2012 Edition of The Hugo Daily News, there was published two competing opinions relative to the upcoming decision by the Oklahoma State Board of Education to implement new “rules” regarding a “New School Grading System”. Not a change in how our children are graded, rather a change in how each Independent (yes, that’s a joke but that’s what we are told) School District school is graded by the state. The following is what I have submitted to my local paper in response to reading both opinion pieces.
29 March, 2012
In Wednesday’s Edition of The Hugo Daily News there were two competing opinions published relative to a new “School Grading System” that is being considered by the Oklahoma State Board of Education. The opinion of Hugo ISD Superintendent Karen Lyles runs counter to the opinion of our State Superintendent of Education, Janet Barresi. Super. Barresi begins by stating that “robust public discussion is one of the best tenets of a free society” and I could not agree with more. Super. Lyles states that “in a state that has been working to limit the role of government, a state grading sy7stem as complex as the proposed is not limited government but is an expansion of bureaucratic regulation” and I fully concur with her assessment of the proposal.
There are two key points that I picked up on when reading both opinions: 1). I am willing to bet that Super. Lyles is NOT alone in her assessment that this new grading system represents an expansion of government regulation and regulatory control over local school districts, 2). Super. Barresi’s statement that “the granting of our waiver from No Child Left Behind is contingent upon the approval of rules”.
The Point #2 is the really important one here. We should not, for one minute, think that the waiver from No Child Left Behind (an arguably atrocious policy that has only served to install more central control over public education) is a good thing. If No Child Left Behind were repealed…that would be a good thing as long as it was replaced with more state and local control. What Super. Barresi does not tell us is that the No Child Left Behind waiver was granted by the U.S. Department of Education so that Oklahoma could pursue a path of even MORE central control by allowing Oklahoma to apply for more Federal dollars (our money, anyway…with LOADS of strings attached) in Race To The Top grants (the current administrations debacle that is only slightly worse than No Child Left Behind). This waiver (and this new grading system rule adoption) also paves the way for Common Core State Standards (CCSS). CCSS is near the pinnacle of absolute and total Federal control of public education in Lolo Montana, San Francisco California, and Hugo Oklahoma. Super. Barresi will tell you that this is a state-led initiative…and she is partially correct. The problem is that it is state-led, at the behest of the Federal government, and is subject to all the rules, regulations, and mandates that Federal government can dish out. Always remember: State-Led = Fed-Controlled! Every Federal dollar (our money that has become touched by overzealous bureaucrats looking to justify their position) has a string attached. Federal education dollars have a tendency to have LOTS of strings (mandates) attached.
I stand firmly behind our Hugo ISD Superintendent, Karen Lyles, on this issue and many others relative to our children’s learning and the proper course of action our schools should take. Perhaps Ms. Barresi could solicit, and actually listen to and adhere to, the opinions and advice of those closest to and responsible for our children learning in a public education environment.