Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When Representatives Don't Represent

Guest post this morning by my friend Niky Shobert...I'll let her words speak for us all. 

Representative Strohm, 

I am not in your district, but I saw a quote of yours in the Tulsa World and felt like I had to say something.   

In case the link won't let you read his words, here they are from the article:

"School choice advocates attacked Henke’s bill, saying it would undercut private schools by making them comply with the same financial reporting as public schools.“The reason private schools work so well, and they do work well; and the reason home schooling works so well, and it does work well, is that they are free,” said Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Jenks. “They are living the American Dream free of the shackles public schools are required to operate under.”Strohm, who received substantial support from a school choice group in last year’s election, said private schools should not be subject to requirements as public schools because private school parents are “more engaged” and “know what’s going on” in their schools"

As a parent, a passionate public school educator, a member of the Central OK PLAC (Parent Legislative Action Committee), and the co-founder of the Cleveland County PLAC, I was very disappointed by your quote that says the strength of private schools/homeschools is that they are free from the shackles that are imposed on public education.   I would like to point out that many of those very "shackles" you mention are imposed by your legislative body.  

My question to you is what are you doing to help:
  •  increase funding to allow for schools to do more, 
  • increase teacher pay in order to attract the best and the brightest (Do you realize OKC and Tulsa public have had well over 100 vacancies all year and even schools like Jenks, Union, Broken Arrow, and Norman struggled to fill all their open positions this year?), 
  • reduce high stakes testing that is killing the spirit and creativity of of teachers and students (research proves this over and over, standardizing testing does not and will not improve student achievement and the high stakes attached to it actually lowers students' achievement and motivation), 
  • return local control of educational issue to local school boards and the parents they represent,
  • eliminate the A/F system that does nothing but place blame and shame on schools for things out of their control (supported by research)
  • eliminate the dangerous TLE model (especially the quantitative -VAM and SLO) of teacher evaluations that more often than not places blame and shame on teachers for things out of their control (again, research shows that growth models do not work for education).  
  • focus on the bigger picture, like poverty, the real root cause of many students' struggles in schools

I teach college students who are in elementary education programs.  Every semester, at least half of my students tell me that are moving out of state or probably not even going to go into education at all.  When I ask why, it is because of pay and working conditions.  Even as undergrads, they feel and see the effects of high stakes testing, TLE, and A/F.  They recognize how poverty is impacting schools and even the most dedicated teachers struggle to overcome it.  They feel the blatant disrespect from lawmakers.  Even they see the shameful effects of the "shackles" that our our OK Legislators as well as the regulations from NCLB that have been imposed on teachers.  

I might add, that as a Parent, I am highly offended that you make the claim about private school parents being more involved.  What "scale" or data do you have to support this claim?  Did you do a survey?  Take a poll?  Talk to parents and schools?   I would argue that it is simply not true.  In any school, public or private, you have a wide range of involvement.  Even homeschool parents range in their involvement.    

Don't forget, 
  • Public School Parents in Jenks Middle School sparked a grassroots movement to bring light to the dangers of high stakes testing when they opted their students out en masse of the 7th Grade Geography test a few years ago.  
  • Public School Parents spearheaded the grassroots campaign to elect Joy Hofmeister.  
  • Public School Parents rallied their representative to return common sense measures to the Third grade reading test and retention via the override of Governor Falin's veto of Representative Henke's bill last spring.  
  • over 20,000 Public School Parents, teachers, administrators, and community members rallied at the Capitol, asking for change. 
  • Public School Parents stay connected with and involved in their students' education despite many challenges that others cannot know. 
  • and so much more.

Help support public education.  Don't dismantle it.

Thank you for your service.  

Nicole Shobert

Go Niky! Let us know if you get a reply.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful rebuttal to this man's statements! We need to continue to shine the light of truth in every public venue possible so that people wake up to what is really taking place in the Capitol.