There are two major arguments The Oklahoman editorial board idea didn’t address in a recent editorial critiquing the process of getting the new Oklahoma school standards implemented.
The Oklahoman Editorial Board, Contradictions abound in Oklahoma Academic Standards process, https://t.co/Hz2u1Dnv0F
— CapitolBeatOK.com (@CapitolBeatOK) April 1, 2016
The first argument is that the Oklahoma Legislature and, as any rational person knows, The Oklahoman editorial board members of all people should not micromanage educational standards. The standards should be left up to the educators and the experts in the field. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with some legislators with education experience and without extreme ideological agendas reviewing standards at some level it should only be in the spirit of cooperation, not in the spirit of antagonism and political fighting. The reason the state had to develop new standards in the first place is because the GOP-dominated legislature repealed the Common Core standards in 2014 based on the dubious reason that they were really some secret plot by President Barack Obama to do something nefarious never quite stated but, rest assured you state Trump and Cruz supporters, it was, indeed, nefarious.
It’s this type of GOP conspiracy theory-driven politics that makes many Republican legislators lose credibility, especially when it comes to micromanaging education standards no matter how many experts they trot out to argue the standards aren’t tough enough or that we need to flunk more students here. Education is a lifelong, holistic process that needs the insight and philosophical approach of community-based educators with doctorates, other degrees and experience, and that’s just what happened in the recent standards process.
— TulsaPeople (@TulsaPeople) February 4, 2016
The fact outside evaluators—one from Arkansas and one from Minnesota—found things to criticize in the new standards is not some huge red flag. That’s what they were tasked to do, and their ideas and criticisms I’m sure will be considered as the standards get tweaked and improved. Education standards can never be monolithic. They must change over time. I won’t question the motivations of the two outside evaluators The Oklahoman mentions in its editorial, but what we do know is they don’t live here or have deep and current experience with the state’s student body. I’m not trying to be pedestrian, but Oklahoma does have enough educational experts to put together math and English educational standards, experts just as supposedly brilliant as the two people from Arkansas and Minnesota.
The second argument is that, as anyone reading this knows, education funding here in Oklahoma has been cut the most of any state on a percentage basis since 2008 and that’s the REAL problem, not standards. In addition, the state faces a current revenue failure and a budget shortfall of $1.3 billion next fiscal year and the state legislature or Gov. Mary Fallin have failed to produce a viable plan to meet the crisis. What this means is that schools will probably face more cuts, which means reduced programs and large classrooms. It will mean more teachers will leave the state. That’s the main problem facing education here and the toughest standards in the world validated by the greatest minds in Arkansas and Minnesota aren’t going to help a teacher with 40 students in a class or students with outdated textbooks or even no textbooks at all.
The Oklahoman editorial really doesn’t address the issues facing education here and how we’re failing our students because of GOP ideology but instead focuses on the political machinations at the state Capitol. Who cares about all the votes or non-votes or legislative committees with clear political agendas or arcane legislative rules? Why doesn’t The Oklahoman care about our teacher shortage or the overcrowded classrooms? You know why? Because it was the ideology of the newspaper’s editorial board that devastated education in the first place, an ideology that led to tax cuts for the wealthy and left our school children behind.
I know some decent, progressive people who are opposed to the one-penny sales tax increase ballot proposal that wold raise more than $600 million annually exclusively for education and give teachers much needed $5,000 raises. It IS a regressive tax, but State Question 799, which will make it on the November ballot, might be our only chance to save an entire generation of students from the mediocre educational financial milieu created by conservative-driven political policy.
If SQ 799 fails and schools take even more big cuts, then there will come a point in which the viability and sustainability for some schools and districts will become an issue. I guess that’s what conservatives here want, but it will substantially lower the quality of life for everyone here.
— Keaton Fox (@keatonfox) March 31, 2016