Let’s take a look at one of the organizations behind the fight to delay our standards: Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment (ROPE).
First and foremost, I feel it is important to share this screenshot of a statement made by ROPE leader, Jenni White:
:As a teacher, all this time I thought my primary clientele were children. I’d like an explanation from legislators entertaining this group’s opposition to the standards adoptions. Why are we allowing education policy to be driven by a group that believes the 40,000 educators and nearly 700,000 children in our public schools are not worth our time and effort?
If you scroll through ROPE’s Facebook page, before the sudden blitzkrieg on the new standards, you’ll find lots of posts in support of ESA’s or vouchers.
Given ROPE’s very vocal opposition to the efforts of public schools, it should come as no surprise that they would support legislation to divert taxpayer money from already starved public schools and send it with little to no accountability to parents who homeschool or choose religious-affiliated private schools.
Just before spring break, proponents of ESAs tried unsuccessfully to pass two separate measures (HB2949 and SB609) that would further efforts to make vouchers a reality in our state. Despite a large Republican majority in both the House and Senate, and the loud efforts of our governor, neither measure made it out of its respective chamber. This was largely due to a grassroots movement of parents and educators informing legislators they were NOT in favor of further financial crippling of our public schools.
A statement was released by house and senate leadership on Thursday, March 10th: neither voucher bill would advance. On March 11th, the ROPE Facebook page made its first mention of the Oklahoma Academic standards since January 31st. Since, March 11th, the ROPE Facebook page contains more than 20 posts calling for a delay in adopting our new standards. I waded through the more than 75 posts from January 1st through March 11th. Amid Ted Cruz campaign endorsements and references to classic literature as “smut”, I found only 5 posts that alluded to our new standards (one of which was merely voicing a concern that standards concerning health might include sex education). Those 5 posts occurred in January. I find it odd there was no mention of concerns about the new standards in February, since they were officially released for review and acceptance to the legislature on February 1st.
Despite the months-long process of creating the new standards, conducted by Oklahoma educators for Oklahoma’s children, despite the 65 letters of support from Oklahoma districts and agencies, and despite having submitted those standards to Oklahoma lawmakers on the first day of this legislative session over six weeks ago, opponents waited to voice concerns until now. Just DAYS before the standards would take effect by default, multiple resolutions (SJR75, HJR1070, and HJR1071) were introduced in both the house and the senate that would delay their adoption and send them back for further review and adjustment. This delay would cost us more time and money.
Furthermore, the movement to repeal Common Core claimed Oklahoma needed academic standards written by and for Oklahomans. More local control. Why, then, are we suddenly interested in the opinions of “experts” outside our state, one-in-particular directly tied to Common Core? There are 11 comments on this Tulsa World article over Achieve’s assessment of OAS. ALL of the comments are declaring frustration with legislators and/or questioning the validity and relevance of Achieve’s findings.
Maybe I’ve seen too many seasons of 24, but this is where my conspiracy theory radar goes off. Am I supposed to believe there is no connection between refusing to adopt our standards and foiling the voucher wolves’ plans to huff and puff and blow down our [school]house?
I know, I know. Correlation is not the same as causation. Still, it’s enough to make you raise an eyebrow and think, hmmmm. Keeping in mind the standards would pass with no action on March 24th, I’ll leave you with a list of legislator emails and this timeline of events:
- February 1st: Standards submitted to legislature
- March 10th: Both voucher bills die in legislature
- March 10th: Financial Secretary, Preston Doerflinger, erupts
- March 11th: ROPE begins online campaign to undermine standards
- March 15th (am): Educator rally at the capitol
- March 15th (pm): ROPE has standards meeting at the capitol
- March 15th: Joint resolutions filed to delay implementation of standards
- March 16th: Jenni White’s editorial in the DOK
- March 16th: Jenni admits she hasn’t read the standards:
- March 18th: DOK front-page:
- March 18th: Jason Nelson’s blog post calling for standards delay (his first blog post since February 27th)
- March 18th: Achieve report released
- March 20th: The Oklahoman Editorial Board continues their standards-undermining agenda
I wonder what other shenanigans await us between now and March 24th?
SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE EMAILS:
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Follow this link to email representatives in the House.