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#oklaed, Edublogger, Education, Political Education

Forgive My Ignorance, I Have Some Questions

It’s my fault…I should have done a lot more of this earlier, but for the first time in my teaching career, I have been actively following all of the different items in my legislature. I have emailed and tweeted different politicians this year for the first time. I participated in my first education rally at the capital. Maybe I should have been doing these things for years, but trying to teach and help my students reach all of the different checkpoints mandated by the government, plus coaching, plus being a Dad and being a Husband…It seems that I haven’t had much time to do this. If only the legislature met in the summer…

Here is my ignorance – I truly don’t know and this is why I ask. Do private schools receive any funding from the state for the students they teach? Are they required to provide an IEP for students that qualify? Can they dismiss a student at any time? How are these schools evaluated by the state? Do their students have to take EOI’s and will their teachers be submitting roster verification? How do we know that these schools are “not failing”? I know that there are excellent private schools out there and I am not questioning the teachers and administrators in those schools, I am just wondering….

With the recent bill to increase charter schools – I know that they receive some state funding, but the same questions apply. If we are creating a bill that allows more charter schools into Oklahoma, to send more of our money out of state, why can we not make some changes to the way that public education is regulated? If our public education system is so bad (which I strongly disagree with), why are we not trying give public education some of the freedoms that the charter and private schools appear to have? Why are public schools the victim of such opinionated bashing? Our state newspaper editorial pages are very hostile toward public education and I don’t understand why. I don’t remember ever seeing one of their reporters spending a week with me during the school year and watching/seeing/learning/doing what I do…

I had a conversation with a colleague this week, we both discussed the merits of leaving Oklahoma to teach in another state.  We love our school, we are both super involved with the students, we both try and think outside the box, we truly want what is best for our kids.  But it is getting more and more difficult to do this.

The state representative for my district is Representative Mike Turner – his harsh opinions of my profession has been difficult to listen to, especially from someone who is a leader.  I was very frustrated with his comments that stated teachers were selfish, greedy, lobbyists.  I don’t understand why he would say that.  Where is the greed he mentions?  In Oklahoma a family of two earning $29,100 can qualify for WIC, first year teachers earn $31,600, this doesn’t seem greedy to me.  The members of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives earn $38,400 plus per diem for less time than a teacher will work.  Just based on this information, who is greedy?  I know that we spend over $13 million for state testing, that is documented and not opinionated, is this waste?  Is there a better way to determine student success?  What about all of this TLE business…I don’t mind being held accountable for my teaching, that is part of the job.  But when you tie assessment scores into my evaluation, isn’t that like saying to a:

  • Dentist: Make sure that 95% of your patients are cavity free or you will be put on probation for one year and must pay for intensive cavity fighting professional development.  If your cavity prevention rates do not improve you can no longer be a dentist.
  • Legislator: Make sure that you write at least 50 Bills and be sure that 95% of them pass.  If you do not write enough bills, you will be provided with an intensive three month long session on bill writing to help improve your bill writing skills.  If you do not get enough votes to pass, then you must go to a different session helping you to learn how to make your bills more successful (again you are required to attend and pay your own way).  If you cannot improve then you will be dismissed with no option of running for re-election.

I am not trying to put anyone down here, I know that there are great teachers in all different types of schools, I know that there are leaders in state agencies that are well intentioned, and I know that there are people in government that truly want what is best for students.  But I have some questions…Forgive my ignorance.


About Scott

My name is Scott. After 18.5 years as a high school math teacher in public education I have made the move to become a full time PhD student. This decisions was difficult, but has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. Teaching in high school was an incredible experience for me, so leaving an environment that I loved for the unknown was a challenge. As I high school teacher, I taught almost every math course that could be offered. I was able to earn National Board Certification in Young Adult Math. I was honored as my building Teacher of the Year, no mean feat at Edmond Memorial High School!! My career changed as I became fascinated with educational technology and all of the things that it can do for teachers. I flipped my class. I used iPads and blogging (in high school math!!). I started using gamification and mastery learning. I changed my practice. I chose to go back to school to learn as much as I could. To bring that knowledge from academia and research to the teacher on the front line. I have had the opportunity to present at several conferences and share what I have learned with others. Its through these connections that we can be the best teachers we can for our students. They deserve it and we sell ourselves short when we don't give it. I love talking with teachers about change. About incorporating educational technology. About the power that they have to change lives. My blog space is me, it shares my passions and frustrations, my joys and my learnings. If you are interested in what I am studying, please visit my graduate school pages. If you are interested in the flipped classroom, I have some links to get your started. I would love to meet you! Do not hesitate to reach out! I would enjoy the opportunity to work with your staff or trade ideas with your teachers - let me know! Have a great day! #BeBrilliant


3 thoughts on “Forgive My Ignorance, I Have Some Questions

  1. I would like to help clarify some things. First, charter schools are not private schools. We operate under most of the same rules as all Oklahoma public schools work under. We do not charge tuition, we are required to do the same high-stakes testing and are graded with the same report card. While some of the charters are part of national chains, many are not. In our district, we choose our students by lottery, not test scores, meaning we have the same mix if students as the average classroom.

    The same thing that you say of reporters can be said about most public school teachers/union leaders opinion of charters. If you were to visit my school for a week, you would find 375 lower SES students, mostly minority, being taught by certified teachers with far fewer resources than most public schools have available. We use the same standards, have the same professional development requirements, and same commitment to our students that you have. We simply offer our community an alternative to the public schools in our neighborhoods.

    While State rules do not require our teachers to be certified, in reality we are, eith one or two exceptions and even those teachers are required to get certified with in a time limit set by administration.

    Please don’t lump charters in with private schools. We are very different, operating by most of the rules you follow.


    Posted by Rob | April 28, 2014, 11:59 am
    • Thank you for sharing, I truly don’t know and that is why I asked. I have spent my entire career in public education and have not spent a lot of time researching and staying aware of the political situation regarding education…I work hard for my students and make sure they are prepared, but have not taken the time to educate myself on all of the different policy. I wrote this because I want to know! I know that some charters are excellent and that they operate a little differently from private schools, just did not know how. Thank you for your time reading this and responding!


      Posted by haselwoodmath | April 28, 2014, 12:50 pm
      • No problems. I had no clue about charters before becoming a teacher at one. Each charter sets certain rules but those mostly have to do with admission, teacher hiring, no tenure, etc. The big, important rules that govern testing and standards are set by the State.

        My school has set attendance rules that are a bit different. We have a modified year round schedule with about six weeks in the summer. We also go about seven days more than required.


        Posted by Rob | April 28, 2014, 8:11 pm

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