Why do I care?

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, United States
I have worked with children and in public schools for 41 years. I am committed to do everything I can do to help every child have an excellent public school education. I am also committed to the common good of the people of Oklahoma

Monday, March 24, 2014

Thoughts and ponderings

It has been over a year since I have written anything for this blog.  One might think I have given up; given up on the issue of public education, given up on the future for today's children; given up on wanting to make a difference.  Not true.  I have been immersed in life instead of words,  but now I am back.

Public education and its teachers in Oklahoma are in serious trouble right now.  Bombarded from those who have some sort of resentment from their own public school experience, trashed from legislators who think that anyone who walks in off the street must be better than the education professionals who are working their tales off right now, dismissed by those who do not believe in the creed of common good which has made our country rise above all others.   It is also being diminished by those in its own ranks who try to push their own greatness while criticizing instead of lifting up others struggling.

 Legislators are trying to sabotage public service retirement plans.  Instead of guaranteed retirement plans, lawmakers want new employees to use plans based on the stock market, while those still working and close to retirement depend on new employees contributions.  Doesn't this put all the whole system on shaky ground?

 Prisons' and jails' populations are bulging.  Guards earn less than Quik Trip employees.  There are too many prisoners and not enough guards.  The mentally ill have huge populations in those facilities and have to be kept separate for safety sake.

The state has few options for the chronically mentally ill.

  Political rhetoric, chest thumping and cutting taxes is being echoed by lawmakers in Oklahoma City, while we the people are saying, "Wait a minute!"  How are the laws being pushed today going to help Oklahomans?

Another tax cut?   If roads and bridges were in great shape; if public schools were thriving; if public employees were making a livable wage; if the capitol was in great shape; if public employees retirement funds were stable; if Medicaid funding was stable; if.........
               Then it would be time for a tax cut.



Here We Go!

Here we go!   Two years have passed.  My legislator has done nothing to help public schools, but instead has turned his back on them by authoring a bill to cut income taxes, even more.  We can't stand by and just complain.   So I am running again for HD 76!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I attend the Tulsa area PLAC meeting today (Parents Legislative Action Committee) which was very interesting and at the same time somber.   The room was packed with about 200 parents, educators and people interested in public education.

 A Jenks principal gave a presentation about high stakes testing, which in his research takes away a full quarter from teaching and learning.  He talked about kids who get lost, using a bag of unpopped popcorn as an analogy.  Most kernels pop but there are always some in the bottom of the bag which don't due to a wide range of reasons.  Today's' high stakes testing leaves students from a wide variety of circumstances, unsuccessful with no way to become successful.  Several parents shared concerns about their personal experiences with high stakes testing and the stress which it brings to children.

There was a report from another Jenks principal who said that the Core Curriculum testing which begins in 2014 has a fatal flaw from the Oklahoma Department of Education.  The test that Barresi choose has only one test with no modifications for special education students.  All students have to take the same test.  A severely mentally handicapped child will be required take the same test as a gifted student.  The State Department of Education told districts to not give modified state tests this year, to get those students ready for next year.   This is criminal.  Under federal law, which supersedes state law, special education students follow an IEP, which is a federal document, and no IEP would allow such treatment of the child.

Janet Barresi chose this test because she thought it would be more challenging.  She doesn't have a clue.

  Senator John Ford was present and was asked some tough questions from audience members which ranged from questioning his support of high stakes tests, to lack of funding.  He stated that a high school diploma should "mean something", but had no answer as to what it should mean.  He, also, emphasized his concern that schools should be held accountable, saying that he knew some small schools which are not doing a good job after the statement was made that people think their own schools are great.
His comment on the recent passage of the two state questions which will cut public school funding even more, was that was what the voters wanted to do.

Debbie Jacoby, from Union, has two comments:

  • If passing high stakes tests is the goal of having a high school diploma, instead of attending classes, passing class tests, and doing everything that is part of each class's requirements, shouldn't a high stakes test be given in order to get a college degree?
  • How is Oklahoma going to recruit and keep excellent teachers when they are treated with such distain and disrespect by the state legislature?
We, public education supporters, have a long way to go in influencing and educating legislators, but as more parents become involved and more teachers break out of their comfort.  Everyone who cares about children have to step up and let their voices join together to stop the madness which has been coming from the state capitol.   Our children are our future.