( – promoted by DocHoc)
One of the top three things Oklahoman politicians love to hate is education. Someday I’ll talk about the other two, but for now, let’s just say that education is a carpe diem topic that can always be used for political fodder. As an educator with more than 30 years experience, I cannot help but notice how politicians promise teachers the moon when they are stumping for votes, since we represent such a large voting block; but, use us as one of their favorite punching bags once elections are over. So it is with State Senator John Ford (R-Bartlesville) and Senate Bill 1–already entered for the 2011 legislative session.
Ford’s bill allows local school boards to fire teachers by eliminating a law which allows trial de novo for teachers accused of incompetence, malfeasance and the like. The bill assumes that poor teachers are kept on the job because of expensive judicial protections which allows jurors to discern whether evidence against a teacher is sufficient for firing. Ford’s process would return us to an old status quo where Superintendents and other administrators fire teachers on the flimsiest of evidence or whenever they perceive a teacher “making trouble” or standing-up for themselves (and the subjects they teach). Under the guise of good teaching, the bill strips the teachers of their rights to due process and subjects them to the whims of local politicians, administrators and parents with connections to school boards.
Teaching is an upfront and personal business with me. I was raised by a mom who was a career public school teacher, taught college for more than 30 years, married to a teacher who taught in public schools for 15 years, and raised a son who participated in Teach for America in Los Angeles. While I may not understand everything there is to know about teaching, I understand a heck of a lot more about education than 99% of most legislators. Senate Bill 1 is nothing more than a feel good measure that will do nothing to improve the quality of education in Oklahoma in any substantial way.
I have a few suggestions for Senator Ford if he sincerely wants to improve the quality of education.
I have little doubt that Senator Ford’s, legislation will sail through this republican senate and that he will brag to his constituents about how he’s ridding Oklahoma of poor teachers. However, at the end of the day, education in Oklahoma faces some incredibly serious problems and I have yet to see a legislator with the cajones to do anything about them. I’ll not hold my breath for the 2011 legislative session.