Thursday, March 17, 2016

"A ROPE by Any Other Name..."

I spent 20 years watching Romeo and Juliet self-destruct and take everyone with them. My students memorized speeches from the ‘Balcony Scene,’ and I have no doubt some of them could still quote lines.

So, as we discussed the recent Standards squabble and the strange involvement of a group, ROPE,  who encourages member to withdraw from public schools and home school, my friend Rick Cobb (another English teacher), threw out a line: “A ROPE by any other name…” I LOLed.

“A ROPE by any other name would smell as…fishy…suspicious…self-serving…(I know! Those last two are not smells exactly…but, man, the line works).

What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.”  

Dear perfection? Not our ROPE…but there is a sick fascination about a group that seems to wield power over a public institution it appears to hate.  There is a single-mindedness and sense of mission about them.

What’s up with ROPE? I remember when they were “Restore Oklahoma Public Education”…I even joined their FB group when that was their name. I trusted that they truly wanted to restore the best of public education back to Oklahoma. I was quickly disabused of that idealistic notion, and tip-toed out of the group to let them continue school-bashing in their own comfortable echo chamber.

Later, ROPE came clean – public education is not a priority…Now they’re “Restore Oklahoma Parent Empowerment “ (starting to really hate that word – nothing good happens with it). Now ROPE goes its merry way, jabbing our schools and collecting legislator friends along the way.

Ask ROPE and they will tell you they are personally responsible for the fall of Common Core in Oklahoma. If so, they left us, with HB 3399, a stinky pile of something…two provisions in the bill were planted to give schools trouble, and they have.

Oklahoma was charged to write our own Standards…AND they could not resemble CCSS in any way. Educators knew this was a trap. Standards is Standards is Standards. As I’ve been saying, there are just so many ways to express, “Students will recognize and identify a simile.” CCSS did not invent their standards…they built them from others. So, when our expert educators (more on them in a moment) came together and began crafting our new Standards, there would be reflections of all the standards ever written by educators. There had to be. These are the bedrock of teaching and learning: guideposts, targets, to keep our work on focus.

The other trap in HB3399 was the requirement that the legislature would have final approval of the Standards. Not educators. Politicians. What could possibly go wrong?

So, experts were assembled and Standards were written.  All along the way citizens could comment on the Standards.

In preparation for presenting Standards to the legislature, OSDE assembled evidence of rigor, documented the differences between Standards and CCSS, collected letters of support from OTHER experts, and generally worked in a professional manner to give legislators all the information they would need to understand a complicated process that is outside their realm of expertise. Their presentation took place on the first day of the new Session…they were ready to go.

Then we waited. The legislature could approve with a Joint Resolution, or they could simply wait until March 23, and the Standards would be automatically adopted. We waited.

In every meeting with my Representative, Scott Martin, he identified Standards as his top legislative priority…he showed me the materials OSDE created to help them make an informed decision. He has worked this whole Session to get this done.

Then, this week. Hours after educators and parents and children descended on the Capitol Tuesday morning. Representative Sykes hosted a presentation of his own…put on by Heartland Institute, with clear, strong ties back to ALEC. He had two experts who (insert gasp here) disapproved of the Standards. They ripped, they shredded. They created doubt and confusion.  

The literacy expert told legislators that our Standards were inferior because we had no exemplar texts…A word about exemplars…they are the texts that would be required for all teachers to teach. That makes our Standards move into curriculum…and Standards must not be curriculum. This is not the first time she’s muddied the waters, or the first time she was wrong. Oh, and about exemplars? CCSS has them…and we were required to write Standards which were in no way, shape, or manner, similar to CCSS…attacked for not mirroring the hated CCSS. My head hurts.

Hours later, ROPE began a public attack… a blog post ready to go, slick links with snappy titles like “They’re Baaaack” warned us that CCSS was sneaking back into our state…that the Standards were a nefarious attempt to circumvent the law. Those pesky teachers didn’t have control over their work…or they were lackeys of Governor Fallin, or they were.

Then, the very next morning, an editorial, listing all the shortcomings of the Standards, showed up on the pages of the Daily Disappointment Oklahoman. By the leader of ROPE.

Remember, ROPE is not supporting public education, the only entity in the state that will be required to follow the Standards. So, a valid question has to be, “Hey, ROPE, what’s your real agenda?” Not public schools or our public school kids.

Back to those Standards. I checked the list of authors, and am duly impressed. Among the names are two teacher-leaders I have watched since their first days in the classroom. Now they are helping craft policy. Among the names are two professors whose children I had in my own classes…professors I’ve watched participate with K-12 education, and teacher preparation. One woman and I attended National Council of Teacher of Education national conferences. One I met through Oklahoma Writing Project, and has shepherded scores of teachers through a challenging month of professional and personal growth. At least two are educators I know online, whose leadership is important to our state. I see a good mix of higher education and K-12. I see early elementary literacy specialists and secondary ELA teachers. I see Oklahomans who stepped up, worked together, and did the job we asked. They wrote a new set of Standards.

Now, ROPE, whose leader is clear about the fact she did not read them…didn’t even review them…knows best for public schools in Oklahoma. Schools with whom she has no connection or affiliation. Schools she needs to allow to do their own work.

So, who do I personally trust to tell me about the Standards? Educators who are esteemed by their colleagues, who’ve studied and crafted their professional path? Educators who are state leaders, national leaders, in their field? Educators who have dedicated their professional lives to literacy and literature and learning? Educators who stepped up when their state asked? My answer is a resounding, “You betcha!” These educators have knowledge in the field that is deep and wide. Together they represent hundreds of years of experience in the field, at every level.

Or do I trust ROPE and its leader…a person who said she not read the Standards (hey – if she didn’t read them, how can she write an editorial slamming them?), who listened to other enemies of the Standards? A person who is not affiliated with public education? Who shows every indication that she is quite hostile to public education and public school educators?

The answer is clear…

A ROPE by any other name still stinks to high heaven. 

Quit caving to special interests that do not include public schools or public school students. 

Pass the Standards NOW!

For your viewing pleasure, David Barton's video, actually posted a few days before the Heartland Institute's presentation.


  1. Thank you so much for your support, Claudia. I appreciate you!

  2. Every educator invited to contribute to writing standards took their job very seriously and with OKLAHOMA students in mind. I wirked with colleagues on the World Languages standards and we are very proud of what we did, as are the ELA teachers as well. It is insulting g to think that our own teachers cannot write rigorous and excelent standards for our students. We have and will continue to be the Phoenix and will rise out of the ashes reborn and renewed.

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  4. Every educator invited to contribute to writing standards took their job very seriously and with OKLAHOMA students in mind. I worked with colleagues on the World Languages standards and we are very proud of what we did, as are the ELA teachers as well. It is insultingg to think that our leaders think so poorly and disparaging of Oklahoma teachers and believe that they cannot write rigorous and excelent standards for our students. We have and will continue to be the Phoenix and will rise out of the ashes reborn and renewed.

  5. Who's really destroying public education and harming children?

    #1 Deborah Gist- Tulsa Public School District, OK
    •Held white-privilege trainings for staff and spent taxpayer funds designated for the academic education of ALL students in the Tulsa School District on unproven, unscientific white privilege programs and advocacy from Pacific Education Group to promote racism and hate against white children in the district and white people in society, while supporting the ideology of black supremacism and lawlessness of non-white children in the Tulsa Public School District. Google: PEG criticism of, Pacific Education Group criticism of, and Derrick Bell - to learn the truth behind the unaccountable, self-avowed experts and organizations teaching (indoctrinating) subjective opinion as objective fact and critical race theory (the father of white privilege) as a legitimate science or proven theory.
    •Gist calls all students (and staff) human capital, meaning the children and lowly employees in the Tulsa Public School district are nothing more than products for others, mainly big business and the lords of corruption, to exploit and profit from.)

    Do you think she's doing non-white students any favors by encouraging hate, bigotry, inequality, and feelings of entitlement and/or disregard for law and order in Tulsa and society in general? If progressive public educators, liberal media outlets, Marxist foundations and organizations that intentionally target minority communities, and radical factions within the federal government are constantly overloading children of color with the message that they are entitled to ignore and/or break the law, the rules, the basic foundations of civilized society (under the false premise that being civilized and respecting the rights, lives, and property of another person of ANY COLOR is a white person's oppressive privilege forced on non-white people) what do you predict the outcome for children of color will be?

    Increased run-ins with the law? Increased incarceration rates? Increased fatalities?

    EVERYTHING society is seeing happen to non-white children (non-white people in general).

  6. #2 Robert Neu- Oklahoma City Public School District, OK
    •Cancels holidays and events that he personally considers to be white = oppressive related (Not just American-specific to the U.S., but white), regardless of any fact or proof or who it negatively affects.
    •Has instituted discriminatory discipline practices throughout the district that predominately only hold white children accountable for negative behavior. Black and Mexican students who make up the majority of the student body in nearly all of the schools in the district can not be held accountable for their actions (physical assault, verbal threats, cheating, theft, etc.) if the same number of white students haven't been disciplined for the same infraction- did I forget to mention, because of racial makeup of the student body in the district this is statistically unlikely, if not impossible.
    •District human resources sent out emails to all staff proclaiming the district's encouragement of crime and reckless lawlessness in the thinly disguised support of blanket amnesty and entitlements for illegal immigrants who have broken state and federal law. !Aiding and abetting illegal immigrants in this country is a federal crime, by the way!
    REALITY - More "AT RISK" labeled students equals more federal (tax payer) money for the district to exhort and fraudulently funnel into corporate and private pockets.
    •Also, calls students human capital, meaning the children in the OKCPS district are nothing more than products for others, mainly big business and the lords of corruption, to exploit and profit from.)
    •The Oklahoma Public School District under Mr. Neu's authority has now made it public that the district believes white teachers are incapable of teaching non-white students.

    Of course, being one of the Marxist tools largely responsible for the unconstitutional federal overreach in and corporatizing of education we see in Oklahoma, such irresponsible, unethical, harmful, and discriminatory practices by Mr. Neu aren't surprising in the least. A true wolf in sheep's clothing.

  7. #3 Rick Cobb- Moore Public School District, OK
    •Another Marxist progressive educator who uses blogging to promote his pro-socialist, big government, elitist-controlled centralization ideologies. Rick Cobb uses his blog to spread propaganda, education falsehoods, and deliberate misinformation concerning the ramifications of the policies he's trying to coerce the public and educators under his authority into agreeing with. Mr. Cobb uses his blog as an online tool to verbally attack parents and other educators when he is confronted with the harm his anti-American, globalization, everything is multicultural inclusive but traditional culture in the U.S., everyone is equal, but white people policies cause. He publicly ridicules and belittles parents and other educators who ask about school accountability and the moral obligation of schools and educators to teach fact; not ideology, opinion, or rhetoric. He's an online master of ad hominem attacks against the person or their character to avoid answering questions and confronting the issues brought to his attention. This is the man that parents in the Moore school district are trusting to teach their children to think critically and become fair, educated, and honest young people able to succeed and COPE. Mr. Cobb and his online progressive disciples do NOT advocate fair and equal treatment of ALL people, only for the people they can exploit and use to forward the Marxist agenda that's being allowed to transform and destroy Oklahoma and the United States of America.
    •Mr. Cobb (along with Gist and Neu) demands the high school students in his district read the smut-filled, racially-charged, MODERN literature (promoted by Common Core - REPEALED & AGAINST STATE LAW IN OKLAHOMA) filled with graphic accountings of rape, incest, and beastiality written by agenda driven authors with a very one sided perspective instead of the traditional classics that taught and warned young people about the lies and dangers of Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, centralization, globalization, greed, and envy.

    Once upon a time, people understood that making some people suffer more so others could presumably suffer less, was unethical, immoral, and would be taken advantage of by those with the most power in society. People understood that such an ideology driven by undeserved guilt, all-consuming envy, and intentional division would be used by some to exert force and gain control over others.

    Agenda driven people, nonprofits, foundations, and organizations now decide what information is taught to your children. Unbiased, well rounded, highly qualified educators with legitimate degrees in the education field are now required to teach in accordance to whatever the "social justice" scheme of the month is.

    But hey, that's all the rage today!
    Who am I to question the logic behind promoting hate and encouraging the insanity we see exploding all around us. Becoming a victim in need of mental health intervention provided by school appears to be the latest money making, individual privacy shredding scam in public education so I guess it all make sense.

  8. LOL -- I recommend you start your own blog instead of name-calling on mine. You have points to share, and you have a voice. But this is not the appropriate forum for your rage.

    These educators are NOT Marxists...they ARE educators. They work with our children.

    Your points are out-of-date...addressed already.

    Hoping you find your way to your own blog soon.