Those of you who are fans of the recently completed television series, “Breaking Bad,” will recognize the picture above. The photo shows the star of the show, Walter White (aka Heisenberg), standing next to his beloved 2004 Pontiac Aztek.

I know this might offend a few folks out there who actually own one of these vehicles, but this car is seriously ugly. I’m sorry, beauty might be in the eye of the beholder but everyone knows ugly when they see it!

Depending on the poll you look at, the Pontiac Aztek is listed as one of the ugliest cars in automotive history, earning a ranking of #5 on’s list of the 100 Ugliest Cars of All Time. In its article about the Aztek, the Edmund’s website states, “If there are any executives left at GM who signed off on this, there is no justice in the universe.

They list the “Pros” of the vehicle as “versatile interior, available all-wheel drive, and heads-up display.”

As the Con: “Butt-ugly styling!” I concur!

Breaking Bad’s creator Vince Gilligan chose the puke green Aztek specifically because it was so ugly, and for that reason, it made Walter White look rather pathetic at the start of the show. However, I have also read that Aztek owners tend to be very protective of their vehicles. Believe it or not, there are even Aztek fan clubs in cities across the nation. These Aztek owners are tired of the press constantly beating up on their vehicle and proudly proclaim that anyone who doesn’t like their car can “Kiss My Aztek.”

For some reason, this theme reminded of Superintendent Barresi. In particular, her resolute affection for the state’s A-F school grading system.


It simply no longer matters to Dr. Barresi what anyone thinks about A-F. We may think it is statistically flawed and provides an inaccurate and overly simplistic evaluation of school performance.  The OU/OSU Policy Center can publish all the critical reports they want. She does not care.

If she cared about what anyone thought, she would have immediately invited members of the above-named research team to the SDE to give them an opportunity to present their findings and suggest improvements to the A-F methodology.  She did not.

She could have brought together a representative group of district superintendents to listen to their concerns and include them in the process for improving the system. She did not.

She could have modeled professionalism, critical thinking, problem solving, and consensus building by taking these suggestions to the Republican-controlled House and Senate and proposing meaningful changes to improve the system. She did not.

She could have lobbied the legislature and the state school board to place a moratorium on release of the grades until the deficiencies had been addressed. She did not.

What Dr. Barresi did do is dismiss the OU/OSU report almost before the ink was dry on the final draft. As we also learned this morning, Dr. Barresi saw fit to spend $85,000 to hire Harvard strategic data fellow, Dr. Megan Clifton, to conduct her own analysis of the system. As stated in the TW article, Dr. Clifton’s primary job is to increase the agency’s capacity for data analysis and improving student outcomes in Oklahoma schools.

I suppose Dr. Barresi did not feel like anyone at the state universities had the capacity to conduct this type of data analysis. They would have likely provided this assistance for free if she had asked.  She did not.

My colleague at okeducationtruths published an excellent post (HERE) earlier today which challenges some of the cursory reasoning provided by Clifton and the SDE in today’s TW article.

I will reserve any further critique or evaluation of Dr. Clifton’s report until the SDE publishes the entire study, just as the OU/OSU team did back in October. Since the people of Oklahoma paid for this study to be conducted, I am certain they will be releasing the full report any day now, right?  If they do not do this voluntarily, an open records request might be necessary.

I am also curious if Dr. Clifton took the time to actually speak with any members of the OU/OSU research team, investigate their sampling techniques, evaluate their methodology, or analyze their copious amounts of data they used to support their conclusions.  If the answer to this question is no, I have to question the thoroughness of her study.

But, as I said back at the beginning of this post, these questions really don’t matter to our State Superintendent.  At this point, she is just looking for political cover so she can move on and start focusing on her campaign. If she reads this blog, she realizes that she only has six months, 20 days, 23 hours, and 23 minutes until we make her a lame duck. We are keeping track as well.

For now, Dr. Barresi loves her A-F system and thinks it is beautiful. It does not matter to her that many of us find it quite ugly. She’s probably just wishes we would all “Kiss her A-F!”