Gov Fallin Won’t Give Up on Punishing Public Schools

Fallin and the State of the State Address
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin gives her State of the State address to the combined House and Senate of the Legislature on the first day of the session, February 2. Credit:

Apparently, Governor Mary Fallin is still sold on the A-F school grading model from the very latest new and improved “government transparency” website that was rolled out during her state of the state address on February 2. 

The site appears to show citizens what is going on in government from our health, to safety, to education, to economics.

And, of course, since the lingo on the far right in Oklahoma is to call public schools “government schools”, then she is just going to show you how those schools are doing because, you know, transparency.


OKStateStat - Educated Citizens & Exemplary Schools - Google Chrome_2015-02-02_14-16-20


Now let’s pause and look at how “transparent” the Fallin administration has been so far.

Emails concerning her rejection of Medicaid expansion to help the poor were hidden, with the first ever “executive privilege” argument being made by an Oklahoma governor. There is no “executive privilege” granted by the Oklahoma Constitution or by law.

Fallin fought turning over those emails all the way through the courts until a judge ruled that she could hide some of them.

Other times thousands of records except for the ones that might embarrass her have been dumped at once in order to flood reporters who had been asking for specific information.

She has set new records for how long it takes her office to respond to Open Meetings Act requests.

And now she is the transparency governor?

A-F Fallin fallacy

Of course the issue is whether any kind of single grade given to any single school can be valid.

Non-educators just think that there ought to be a way to get a quick data read on how any school is doing. Nationally, even Democrats too often have been sold on NCLB and A-F grading.

And as a long-time teacher myself, let me confess that our giving semester grades to individual students and lending so much credibility to them over the years has contributed to this thinking.

Does a single semester grade represent the many complexities of a semester full of work for that single person who is rapidly growing daily? Of course not.

But, colleges demand them, so we give them. We insist upon their validity because we want colleges to take us seriously. But, it always has been a mistake.

And giving one grade for an organization as complex as any individual school in a school system should have no credibility in a public debate about the quality of that school.

But, hey, we’re all in a hurry and since we have this A-F grading system already in place, let’s just pretend that it’s valid and go ahead and use it. Right, governor?

Performance for Pay – the real agenda

As A-F always has been, this is the ramp-up to showing why public schools should get progressively less money and investor-owned charters should get it without submitting to the same scrutiny.

  • Keep at least half of the state in poverty.
  • Do nothing about it.
  • Expect public schools to find a way.
  • When they can’t overcome the effects of grinding poverty, reduce the funding because they aren’t being “effective” and giving the taxpayers their money’s worth.
okstatestat - Performance for pay
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This has been in the cooker for some time now. Barresi’s not being in place to back it up and be one of the cheerleaders was just a mere hiccup.

The widely discredited A-F system that gives a whole school one single grade on criteria that don’t actually show what a school is accomplishing is still alive and well with the Fallin administration.

It’s going to be used to accomplish its ALEC-inspired political goals of discrediting public schools whether there is a cooperative state superintendent or not.

Moving out Janet Barresi was a big win for all educators, parents, and children in Oklahoma; but, it didn’t solve all of our philosophical or political problems.

Don’t relax.