If you were alive in the summer of 1975, you will undoubtedly remember Neil Sedaka’s re-recording of his 1960’s hit, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” From my recollection, it played on AM radio about 17 million times that summer. I’m not exaggerating. Here are the opening lyrics:
You tell me that you’re leavin’,
I can’t believe it’s true!
Girl, there’s just no livin’ without you.
Don’t take your love away from me.
Don’t you leave my heart in misery.
‘Cause if you go, then I’ll be blue,
Breakin’ up is hard to do.
The reason this song came to mind is because of the recent events in our state relative to common core state standards. I am afraid these events may have done irreparable harm to the cozy relationship between our state superintendent and former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush.
Here are Janet and Jeb in better times. This was taken at Jeb’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) National Summit in Boston last October. They look so happy together.
At the time this picture was taken, our state was going through the many machinations of last year’s A-F
debacle SNAFU. Oktruths provided a great synopsis of this whole mess in his series on the top twenty reasons we need a new Superintendent. The A-F SNAFU made it to number 9.
You can see in Jeb’s eyes how very proud he was of his Chiefette for Change and her handing of this A-F episode. Either that, or he was inebriated from one too many chardonnays.
Janet’s dogged adherence and loyalty to the A-F system despite a report from the two major Oklahoma research universities calling it “a bureaucratic evaluation system that produces nearly meaningless grades,” certainly pleased Jeb. The A-F system is Jeb’s baby and Janet was happy to call it beautiful. In her letter to school districts, Janet made her devotion to A-F unambiguous:
Some opponents of school accountability will no doubt seize on the recent delay as yet another reason to postpone, reconfigure or simply trash the A-F report cards. Oklahoma parents, students and all interested parties can rest assured that will not happen. The annual grades are critical to heightening accountability, arming parents with important information and furthering the simple proposition that all children can learn.
Combined with her successful implementation of another one of Jeb’s treasured initiatives—third grade retention—and you have a match made in reformer’s heaven.
(Click HERE to watch another short clip of Jeb and Janet during the good times – thanks to Angela Clark Little)
Up until at least April 8th of this year, all seemed to be good for Jeb and Janet. He must have smiled with pride when she responded to a debate audience: “You know, sometimes I’ll tell you things you don’t want to hear, but I will always tell you the truth. I support the Common Core.”
Jeb made his affection for Common Core equally clear when speaking with the Miami Herald just a few weeks earlier. Recall that Jeb’s foundations have received millions of dollars to promote CCSS. Here is a short summary of his comments:
…Those who oppose the standards support the “status quo,” oppose testing and are worried too much about children’s self-esteem.
Let me tell you something. In Asia today, they don’t care about children’s self esteem. They care about math, whether they can read – in English – whether they understand why science is important, whether they have the grit and determination to be successful.
You tell me which society is going to be the winner in this 21st Century: The one that worries about how they feel, or the one that worries about making sure the next generation has the capacity to eat everybody’s lunch? [Emphasis added.]
So, imagine Jeb’s surprise less than two month’s later when Janet dropped this bombshell:
At one time, as it was emerging from Republican and conservative ideas from individual states, I did support Common Core. As it has become entangled with federal government, however, Common Core has become too difficult and inflexible.
Using Jeb’s criteria, it now appears that Superintendent Barresi supports the status quo, opposes testing and is no longer interested in our children “eating everybody’s lunch.”
I wonder if Janet called Jeb to share her news with him before going public. I imagine the conversation might have gone something like this:
Janet: Jeb, darling, I need to tell you something. I’ve been unfaithful.
Jeb: What do you mean? How?
Janet: I hope you will be able to forgive me. I’m breaking up with the common core standards.
Jeb: What? You said you loved them just two months ago.
Janet: I did once…but I think it was just an infatuation. They are just too inflexible. We’ve moved apart and I just don’t love them the same way anymore. Plus, Obama loves them too. There is not room for me.
Jeb: I cannot believe this is happening. Is there someone else?
Janet: Yes, I have fallen in love with the idea of Oklahoma standards, written by Oklahomans, for Oklahoma’s children. The common core doesn’t excite me anymore.
Jeb: Oklahoma standards? That’s crazy, Janet! After all I have done for you, how could you do this?
Janet: I’m sorry, but I feel vulnerable sometimes. I have an election coming up and people were being really mean to me.
Jeb: This is a disaster, Janet! How am I going to share this with my friends and family? I am so embarrassed.
Janet: It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I needed more than I was getting from you and the common core. And, you never call me anymore. I felt so alone.
Jeb: I’ve been so busy. I guess I shouldn’t have taken your support of common core for granted. Is there anything I can do to change your mind.
Janet: I’m afraid not. I do still want to be your Secretary of Education when you become President. I could probably fall in love with common core again if that happened.
Jeb: I am glad to hear that. Tell me again how many third graders might be retained in Oklahoma.
Janet: Almost 8,000—though the stupid liberals and education bureaucrats have made a mockery of your plan. We won’t be able to hold back nearly as many kids as we wanted. The good news is that nothing happened to A-F. We should be able to fail even more schools this year. Do you have your charter school vendors ready to move in?
Jeb: Yes. 8,000! That’s a wonderful start. I told you the A-F would be a great way to rank, sort, and punish your schools. It doesn’t matter if it is accurate or valid. It’s simple and everyone loves simple. I will always be there for you Janet. I hope we can stay friends.
Janet: Of course. I’ll always be your Chiefette for Change. Please stay in touch.
Don’t worry folks. I am sure Janet and Jeb will be able to eventually reconcile their differences over common core. In the meantime, they will continue to wreak havok on the education landscape with all of their other lunacy.
Note to Jeb: Please don’t take this personally. We hope to help you have more time to spend with Janet after January 2015. The voters of Oklahoma will do our best to expedite this reconciliation process by separating Janet from her current responsibilities as Oklahoma State Superintendent. We will be filing our divorce papers with our votes on June 24.
Breaking up with Janet Costello Barresi will NOT be hard to do!