Friday, May 10, 2013

Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire

When I was a boy my grandpa used to tell me axioms for life.  My favorite was “Jason, don’t argue with a fool or mud wrestle a pig; people who just walk by might not can tell who’s who!”  A second axiom from my childhood was do not get into an argument with people who buy ink by the barrel .  A third, and yet vital saying was “the only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to one”.  Sage advice.  However, what do we do when a bully, who is a fool, buys ink by the barrel?  Well, I am going to argue with a fool; I'm going to stand up to the bully and let the chips fall where they may!

The Daily Oklahoman editorial staff is a bunch of liars!  Yep, I said it.  Liars!  And what irritates me more is I believe they know they are lying.  They can't actually support many of their arguments.  They are promoting an agenda and will stop at nothing to discredit all other thoughts on school improvement.  They are constantly telling their readers it is professional educators who are being disingenuous.  For example, in Thursday’s “School Spending Should Actually Fund Reforms” they suggested new dollars for education are needed to fund reforms, but local administrators can't be trusted to use the money correctly.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  They suggested it was school superintendents who refused to pay for National Board Certified Teachers, employee health insurance, Reading Sufficiency, etc.  Then they jumped all the way to crazy town and suggested it was irresponsible for administrators like Tulsa’s Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard to point out that this year’s tests might not be valid for the 9100 Oklahoma students whose tests were interrupted.  The DOK staff wants to discredit superintendents so people won't take them seriously when they offer their expert opinions on school reform.  They do not want a bunch of facts to get in the way of their agenda.  They made the case that because administrators will not fund reforms or spend their money wisely, they could not be trusted to call a train wreck a train wreck!  

For those who do not know, schools get money from the SDE and schools spend it according to the way the SDE sends it out.   In other words, ACE remediation money has to be spent on ACE remediation and Reading Sufficiency money has to be spent on Reading.  Statements saying anything else is happening are just plain lies.  Let us not forget the SDE told everyone that Teacher, Leader, Effectiveness was only going to cost $1.5 million.  When the final bill came in at $4.5 million, the SDE told everyone schools would have to make up the difference.  And school's did just that; they spent local discretionary money on reforms that were mandated and underfunded.  It was not the area superintendents who did not fund TLE; it was local superintendents who funded those reforms when not enough money was available.  Superintendent's do this all the time; they overcome the underfunding of mandates.  It was also the SDE that zeroed out the RSA money, the Professional Development money, and NBCT money, yet schools still had to meet those requirements.  It was the SDE who funded ACE remediation with pennies on the dollar, and schools are still providing remediation and tutoring for students because those students' diplomas are at stake.  Still, the DOK has the audacity to say administrators who “engage in such blatantly misleading rhetoric to undermine educational goals doesn't inspire confidence in their willingness to actually fund those same reforms”!  

Calling out Dr. Ballard and other Oklahoma educators because they speak out on educational issues is ludicrous.  I know Dr. Keith Ballard.  I think he is a passionate advocate for students enrolled in Tulsa Public Schools.  I also believe he is doing what he thinks is right for kids in his district.  If he says the test interruptions caused irrevocable harm to kids needing to pass those tests to graduate, then I believe him.  The DOK editorial staff is trying to tell John Q. Public professional educators have it wrong about the testing mishap; it wasn't a big deal.  Well, I don't believe the DOK knows what the hell they are talking about.  I don't believe for 1 second the editorial staff is telling the truth when it comes to education policy.  I believe they have an agenda, and I think they will go to any length to promote that agenda. 

What a bunch of liars.