Tonight, before a change of administration at the OSDE, I grieve for lost opportunities.
Folks much more knowledgeable than I have bid the Dentist farewell. And adieu. They have highlighted the differences #oklaed has with her Jrb-Bush reforms. They have given us a blow-by-blow account of the battle, and it was a battle. They have warned us not to grow complacent.
I sit here on Sunday evening grieving for the lost opportunities squandered in the last four years. From her first notorious Board meeting, to her 11th-hour hires, Dr. Barresi has squandered our positive regard, our willingness to work together, our deep commitment to public schools in Oklahoma. We were in the schools before she took office and we will be there well beyond her regime. We are left to pick up the pieces. And grieve the time we lost.
She came into office carrying the weight of our suspicion, but we cared deeply about our students and we could have been allies…uneasy allies, to be sure. But we could have found common ground. Teachers are by nature collaborators. We have borrowed and adapted our best ideas. We love to talk about what happens in our classrooms, and we love to hear about others’ successes. We would have worked with Dr. Barresi for the sake of our kids. We would have.
Instead, she made it clear from the tone of her first month that she didn’t need us, she didn’t want us. She got everything she wanted from a supportive governor and Legislature, and boxed educators out, labeling us, as the DOK did, as supporters of the status quo. I know better. I know that most teachers want to learn, to improve. We certainly did not go into the profession to be crappy teachers. But we need support – resources, funding, library books, promises kept.
I grieve for the last four years…our kids graduated from school, entered kindergarten. My own Grands progressed through four years of their education under the dentist. And she did not give them what they needed to succeed. I grieve for our students, and the support they did not receive.
Now that her office is cleared out and bare, will the resources magically appear? No. Will her misinformed reforms disappear? No. Will mandates disappear? No. Will funding be restored? No. Will standardized testing be put in its place? No. Not unless we continue to be engaged in the process.
There is hope for the future, but our responsibilities are clear. We must stay informed, we must contact our Legislators. We must hold them accountable for providing our schools and our students what they need to be successful. We must build networks of like-minded citizens and talk to them. We must promise to vote, holding ourselves accountable for this behavior.
So, I do grieve. But all is not lost. There is nothing as resilient as the human heart. Our children deserve to have the grown ups in their lives to work together for their future. And in these last four years we have created a community of parents and educators and students who are ready to go forward together.
I’m ready. I’m hopeful.