We now have a new submission for the GEIKO insurance company’s “Happier than a ______ campaign”: “Happier than Oklahoma public schools after the defeat of Janet Costello Baressi in the Republican Primary for State Superintendent of Public Instruction on June 24, 2014.”
Okay, that is probably a little too long. Suffice it to say many of us are happy–very, very happy. JOYous to be exact!
If you want, cue up Pharrell Williams’s “Happy Song” and do a little happy dance of your own.
I promised several of you that I would do a dance on the beach in Destin, Florida if Joy pulled out a victory tonight. With the help of my kids holding flashlights on the darkened shoreline, here is my submission. It’s not pretty! It’s more like shadow boxing. You will even hear one of my daughters laughing at my dancing prowess, as well as several observers on the beach. They’re just jealous! Yes, Seth, this is my tranquilized giraffe rendition. 🙂
(to maximize, click on bottom right of video)
It is a great night to be silly. I hope Joy is doing some dancing of her own. She deserves to celebrate after the very difficult primary race she was subjected to over the past few months. Congratulations also to John Cox and Freda Deskin who earned their way to a runoff to determine the Democratic challenger for this November’s general election.
Tonight brings hope for a new conversation about education in our state. In addition to serving as a clear and convincing repudiation of Superintendent Barresi’s leadership, it gives us the chance to reflect on how we can work together to improve education in Oklahoma over the next few years.
In a post last week, I discussed the two main predicates of the national reformer’s mindset. People like lame duck Janet Barresi, Jeb Bush, and others base their destructive reform initiatives on these two premises:
1. Public schools are failing.
2. Teachers and school leaders lack sufficient motivation to improve.
By viewing educational reform through this lens, the reformers have inflicted upon us a test-centric, high stakes model that has brought us TLE, A-F (and other systems to rank and label schools), ACE graduation requirements, third grade retention, charter schools, vouchers, and merit pay schemes. Each of these reforms have served to hinder innovation and stall implementation of truly meaningful changes needed in schools to prepare our students for productive 21st century citizenship.
As we move forward with the knowledge that we will definitely have a new state superintendent in January, I suggest that the new conversation be based on these two ideas:
1. Public schools can be better.
2. Teachers and school leaders want better schools.
By viewing school reform through this paradigm, we can move away from the reformers’ ineffective, outdated systems of rewards and punishments to new processes which foster collaboration, teamwork, innovation, and shared decision-making.
And that’s all for tonight. I look forward to joining you in these type of conversations as we move forward into a new era of public education in Oklahoma. Hopefully, tonight’s result will also cause ripples across our nation. Jeb Bush, are you paying attention?
For the time being, I think I may do a little more dancing tonight. Good night, Oklahoma. You did well today!
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