Friday, April 4, 2014

The Great and Powerful OZ

Now I know how Dorothy felt in the Wizard of OZ! Monday I was walking on cloud 9, head held high, and rejuvenated after standing arm in arm with 30,000 other disenfranchised educational stakeholders. Tuesday, I was cast back into the doldrums of despair by an all-too-common political agenda from the far, far right wing arm of the Republican party. In almost every instance of opposition, I came across the same message: failing schools, greedy administration, dodging accountability, too many administrators or too many schools, etc. The constant regurgitation of the same messaging and branding got me thinking about this very important question:  Who’s running Oklahoma?

It is not a trick question. Go deeper; I’m not talking about Gov. Fallin, Janet Barresi, or even the Republic Party. Sure, you can say Gov. Fallin holds the highest political office in the state, and Barresi holds the highest education political office. However, did you know Gov. Fallin was a strong proponent of Common Core standards as part of her NGA initiative for Education and Jobs? Did you know Supt. Barresi was the chairwoman for PARCC, the second generation assessments for Common Core? Now they can’t distribute strongly worded anti-Common Core press releases fast enough! What changed? They use almost the exact same wording to describe their recent flip flop on the issue! They say, “federal interference” and “new rigorous standards” and “raising standards” and “ensuring accountability”. It is not just them either; Senators and Representatives alike are using almost the exact same phrases when it comes to educational funding, high stakes testing, teacher pay, etc. How is it these politicians have the same spin or the same version of the facts? Then it dawned on me - they must be getting their information from the same political source. Is it possible they all have the same political strategist? No, they all have different people or consultants running their campaigns or offices. Do they all have access to the same polling data? Now, I think I'm onto something! So I will ask again, who’s running Oklahoma?

I think there is someone or group working behind the scenes to craft an effective message. Someone’s behind the curtain pushing buttons and pumping pipes to fill politicians with information and messaging to further promote a specific agenda. I think if you peek behind the curtain you’ll find the pollsters (doing their best OZ impersonation) who ask the questions. They ask questions in ways that “push” voters toward a desired outcome.  These machinations behind the curtain have now produced polling data supporting their idea or agenda.

Or could the “person” behind the curtain possibly be the group hiring the pollsters; the group who wants to drive public policy to reap the financial or political rewards from the newly created agenda from their polling data. But where does this agenda originate? Did it start with ALEC? FEE? OPAC? Those organizations do a great job of crafting model legislation or model public policy. However, I still think there is a group lurking behind the scenes, staying hidden behind the curtain, so they can continue to run Emerald City. So -  who is running Oklahoma?
I’ll blog on possible answers to this question next!