January 12th was “National Clean Off Your Desk Day”. It was also the day Joy Hoffmeister was sworn in as the State Superintendent of Oklahoma. Does anybody else find that ironic? I can certainly name one person who was cleaning off her desk that day (or preferably before). It’s always refreshing when you have a job to do to start with a clean and tidy workspace, isn’t it?
It’s been 119 days, not counting Sundays (because this is Oklahoma), since Joy took office. Where was Joy in those first few days as superintendent? A shorter answer might be to the question, where wasn’t she? She was in schools, worked alongside teachers, met with administrators, attended meetings, spoke at the rally, promoted legislation we liked, and spoke out against the bills we didn’t. Finally! An advocate for public education in the office of State Superintendent! For the most part, educators have been pinching themselves, afraid we will wake up from this dream.
Of course, there are always the Debbie Downers. You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Amiright?
I have heard a few grumblings about our fearless leader’s comments concerning the passage of SB630, one of the bills dealing with the RSA.
Here’s what Joy tweeted last week:
Notice she did not thank legislators for passing SB630 as a whole. She was specific in praising the extension of the RSA teams that will decide retention. This was the golden nugget in that piece of legislation. I might be alone in my thinking here (nothing new), but I think failing SB630—our LAST chance this legislative session to extend RSA teams—to make a point about our stance against RSA in general is cutting off our nose to spite our face. Sure. Some legislators claimed they could lay over other RSA legislation and address the issue next session. I’ll take the bird in the hand on this one. Because quite frankly, I don’t trust to happen what they say will happen.
Speaking of stuff that happened…
Here are some things that happened in the last 119 days:
- Within days of taking office, Joy launched her OKHigh5 plan, to increase teacher pay by $5K, and add 5 instructional days to the calendar.
- Our superintendent has joined fellow educators at professional development, and participated in several #oklaed chats on Sunday nights.
- Prompt attention was given to fixing the problem with students receiving instant performance level feedback (including “unsatisfactory”) on state tests administered online.
- Some redundant and/or excessive testing was eliminated.
- The implementation of TLE was rolled back to give more time to investigate equitable evaluations for all teachers.
Almost as important, here are some things that did not happened in the last 119 days:
- Nobody has been instructed in a public meeting to tell others, “Go to Hell.”
- Nobody has compared the task of writing new standards to an entire community’s grief and subsequent recovery after an historic and tragic natural disaster.
- Certain school districts and specific personnel have not been the targets of thinly veiled political retribution.
- Nobody has undermined the will of the people by encouraging the veto of a bill to amend RSA be upheld.
- Test scores were not released to the public before school districts were given the opportunity to review them.
I could go on, but instead I’ll just refer you to the countdown over at okeducationtruths from last June.
In the words of a trusted colleague, “Rome wasn’t built in a day and the mess we are in wasn’t created in one session.” We can’t expect one person to fix in 119 days what it took one dentist and her power-hungry, self-righteous, holy-war-waging posse years to build.
On that note, I’ll leave you with this little gem from George Harrison. He was one of The Beatles, so that should count for something.
“It’s gonna take time. A whole lot of precious time. It’s gonna take patience and time…to do it right, child.”