Archives for category: Oklahoma

Not long ago, I honored Rob Miller, principal of Jenks Middle School in Oklahoma, for refusing to bow down to the Oklahoma Department of Education. A large number of parents at Rob’s school opted out of the state test, and the state accused the principal of egging them on. They ransacked his emails in search of incriminating evidence but never found any. I admired Rob Miller because he wouldn’t let the state intimidate him. I didn’t realize until I read the piece linked here that Rob Miller had been a Marine. No way was the state superintendent, until recently a dentist, going to get away with pushing Rob Miller around.

Rob sent me this very personal piece. It’s about a boy he knew very well in school. He barely scraped through. He was the kind of boy who would have dropped put of school if the Common Core had been the state curriculum.

This is a story that Rob Miller needed to share. I feel honored that he shared it with me.

I think you should read it. If you are a teacher, you have had boys like Steve in your class. If you are a parent, you may have a child like Steve.

Some people want to throw away kids like Steve. Some think that if we ratchet up the pressure and make school harder, kids like Steve will change and become college-and-career-ready.

Read about Steve and find out who you are.

A group of scholars in Oklahoma reviewed the state’s A-F grading system–borrowed wholesale from Jeb Bush–and found that it was fundamentally flawed.

The Oklahoma Center for Education Policy at the University of Oklahoma and the Center for Research and Evaluation at Oklahoma State University reviewed the state’s A-F system and found that it consistently mislabeled schools.

Please read this short and highly informative report. It explains in clear language why single letter grades do not accurately reflect school quality.

The letter grades are highly tied to changes in test scores. But a difference of only 3-6 answers on a standardized test of 50 questions can change the score from an A to an F.  Thus, small differences on tests are magnified in the letter grade system.

There is also a problem with classifications. Some schools with low letter grades had higher achievement in math or other subjects than students in schools with high letter grades.

There are many other problems, all of them significantly mislabeling schools and misleading the public.

When the grades were released to the schools, they were found to be loaded with errors, and school superintendents complained bitterly about the mislabeling of schools that they knew were good schools.

When we regain our collective common sense, we will recognize school letter grades as a truly stupid idea, concocted to set schools up for failure and privatization.


A comment by a parent at Jenks Middle School, where the principal, Rob Miller, is being investigated for encouraging parents to opt out of a field test. (I mistakenly referred to him as the superintendent, he is the principal).

As you will read here, the parents are fed up with the endless testing:

“As a JMS opt-out parent, I can attest that this was a parent-led move. Of course Principal Miller had contact with Ms. Barnes and those who had questions, but there’s a difference between answering questions and instigating trouble. Barresi’s vindictiveness is well established; her SDE had earlier published personal details of students appealing the withholding of their diplomas. These details included troubled home life and disability information — all identifiable by name for the world to see.

“Jenks parents are nowhere near finished standing up for our kids by challenging the takeover of our classrooms by the corporate assessment complex. And Barresi is gone after Nov. 2014, if not in the primary. It’s just a question of how many backs she’ll try to stab on the way out.”

Earlier today, I posted
a story
about a brave principal in Oklahoma, Rob
Miller, who is under investigation by the State Education
Department for encouraging parents to opt out of a field test. The
parents said they did it on their own.

Principal Miller said he obeyed the law. It was clear that he would not let the State
Superintendent Janet Barresi, a member of Jeb Bush’s dwindling
Chiefs for Change, Intimidate him.

I just received the following communication from Mr. Miller. He is a man of courage. He belongs
on our honor roll. He responds here to those who sent him words of

He writes: “I am very humbled that Diane chose to post
this story. We truly have a State Superintendent in Oklahoma who is
out of control. Thanks to all for your words of support and
encouragement! I also want everyone to know that my district
leadership and BOE are 100% supportive. This is clearly an attempt
by one of Jeb’s Chiefs for a Change to silence a critic. Thank you,
David for sending a response to our SDE. I think Barresi needs to
know the size of the army she is about to engage with.
Collectively, we are impossible to stop. And, Teresa, I truly am
proud to be called a Bad Ass!”

Note to John Merrow: Yes, there are
heroes in education. They are fighting for our kids. They are
fighting for good education. They are fighting for

I just learned that Rob Miller, principal of the Jenks Middle School in Oklahoma, is under investigation for possibly encouraging parents to opt out of a field test.

According to the Tulsa World:

Jenks Public Schools participated in and encouraged a movement to opt students out of field tests last April, an Oklahoma State Department of Education investigation found.

In a July 7 report provided to the Tulsa World this week in response to an open records request, the state said it had evidence that Jenks Middle School Principal Rob Miller “initiated a movement to opt out ‘teachers and students’ from all field tests administered at Jenks Middle School. This occurred while on ‘school time’ and through school district email,” the report says.

The parents at the school say that the decision to opt out of field testing was their own, and they acted without the principal being involved:

In April, the school received a flurry of opt-out forms from parents asking that their children not be subjected to field tests, which are used by testing companies to evaluate questions for future use.

They do not count in either a student’s grade or in a school’s state grade.

“Our kids are being used as unpaid subjects by CTB/McGraw-Hill (a testing vendor) without our consent or permission,” PTA President Deedra Barnes said at the time.

She said the opt-out movement was led by Jenks parents who were frustrated by too much testing and who had heard of similar efforts by parents throughout the country.

After hearing about the opt-out initiative, the state Education Department on April 24 requested numerous records under the Open Records Act related to testing from Jenks Public Schools.

The state received 529 pages of documentation, including 216 redacted email communications, as well as around 800 student opt-out letters, according to its report.

But there may be another reason that Principal Miller is under investigation. On his blog, he wrote critically about the State Superintendent Janet Barresi, a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change and former dentist.

Worse, he wrote a dazzling review of Reign of Error.

He started his review with a quote tweeted by the Tulsa World’s education writer, Andrea Eger: “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose and it will defend itself. - St. Augustine”

Principal Miller went from there to write: “Diane is a lioness of truth who roars with authority, credibility and conviction. She leads a pride of like-minded Americans who believe that corporate reformers have gone too far and that overemphasis on testing and grading of schools has damaged public education and by extension, millions of students and teachers nationwide.”

The parents in Jenks Middle School say they initiated the opt out. In the emails cited in the story, Miller says he tried to dissuade the parents, but he did not seem to be giving them direct orders not to opt out. He walked a fine line.

Trust the parents. Oklahoma should not punish this conscientious educator who is trying to walk a fine line, both to obey his superiors and to listen to his parents.

Will he be punished for (perhaps) expressing his own thoughts? He knows the test doesn’t count.

Is there freedom of speech and freedom of conscience in Oklahoma? Or is obedience to authority, even when authority is wrong, the highest value?

Principal Miller, I hope your parents and community stand with you. Can Oklahoma bear to debate what is right and what is true?

You are my hero.

This is exciting!

Folks, the tide is turning!

An experienced superintendent announced that he will run for state superintendent against Janet Barresi, the current superintendent who is a member of Jeb Bush’s shrinking Chiefs for Change.

Barresi worked as a speech pathologist, then became a dentist. She opened charter schools. She is part of the Jeb (“test ‘em until they cry, then give everyone a grade”) Bush school of thought.

Her challenger rejects the corporate reform rule book:

Dr. John Cox has been a superintendent for 20 years in Oklahoma.

Read this from Dr. Cox:

“I chose to run for state schools superintendent because I do not agree with the current reforms that are being forced on our public schools,” Cox said. “It is time that we return to trusting our teachers and believing and knowing that they are professionals.

“It is also time that we trust principals and superintendents to do their job, and return local control back to our school boards and communities.”

He said he believes his candidacy was a way to being part of a process to save public education in Oklahoma.

“The only recourse that we as educators have, is to work towards improving our schools by fighting for local control, taking care of our teachers, and making a system that allows all children to be successful,” Cox said. “It is time that we take a common sense approach to accountability.”

Cox said the major challenges facing the school superintendent and school districts, in general, is adequate school funding.

“We lead the nation in school funding cuts since 2009, and we need to advocate for increased funding,” Cox said. “Some people will say that throwing money at public schools does not increase student learning, but I will tell you that extra funds help provide … personnel that have direct contact with students and will provide more one on one learning for our students, which will improve student learning.”

Whenever a school superintendent stands up and speaks the
unvarnished truth about what the federal government and the elites
are doing to hurt their students, it takes courage. When that
district superintendent is in a state where his views are unlikely
to be well received by the state education department, it requires
even more courage.

The superintendent of schools in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, Lloyd
is a hero of public education.
he joins our honor roll
today for courage and plain speaking. He writes: “I feel like
business/industry/philanthropist /politicians are trying to FIX us.
Not like a car, like a cat! “Friends, our public schools are like
the Statue of Liberty. We take the tired, hungry, poor, huddled
masses and we give them hope and opportunity. “I wish folks who
think they have to fix us would explain how so many of their
“reforms” will help teachers teach and children learn. I deal with
real teachers and kids. They are not numbers.”

Then he gives the
top ten reasons why the “fixing” is not working.

Here are two of them. Read the other eight: “No. 10: High stakes testing is out of
control. It stifles entrepreneurship, creativity, curiosity and the
American spirit. “No. 9: Most of us have not had enough time to
learn, tweak, embrace common core much less understand the high
stakes implications for students and teachers.” Is there a hero
superintendent like Lloyd Snow in your district?

*i mistakenly said Supt. Snow was in Tulsa. Readers in Oklahoma corrected me.

Parents mobilized to defeat the so-called “parent trigger” in three states.

They referred to it as the “corporate empowerment” bill.

It could also be called the Corporate Enrichment bill.

Coach Bob Sikes in Florida knows how phony that state’s A-F grading system is. (This was confirmed recently by Matt Di Carlo of the Shanker Institute, who pointed out that the state changed the system to improve the results.)

Now he finds that Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi is copying the Jeb Bush playbook.

This is hardly surprising because she is a member of the Jeb Bush group of rightwing state superintendents called “Chiefs for Change.”

Barresi wants Oklahoma to grade its schools with a simple-minded A-F grade, just like Jeb Bush did. If Jeb did it, it must be right. Remember the “Florida miracle”?

Unfortunately a group of Oklahoma researchers examined her proposal and sharply criticized it.

No problem for Barresi. She has been going around the state telling people that the researchers have recanted their views. Except they haven’t.

Before Barresi was elected superintendent, she was a speech pathologist. In 1984, she became a dentist. Later, she opened Oklahoma City’s first charter school and served on the board of another charter school. She is a big supporter of privatization.



The National Council on Teacher Quality holds an important position in the public arena, passing judgment on the quality of teacher education programs across the nation.

Mercedes Schneider, who holds a Ph.D. In statistics and research methods, is reviewing the board of NCTQ to determine its qualification to do its job. Among its members are Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp, Joel Klein, and quite a few more. How many have classroom experience? How many understand how teachers are or should be prepared?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94,795 other followers