First, let’s acknowledge that those school A-F rankings that came out this week are bogus, and both candidates clearly say so.
Second, let’s also acknowledge that the drastic drop in rankings for so many schools after Barresi’s primary loss shows just how the Barresi-led OKSDE has been jiggering the grades all along. Leading up the election? The scores keep improving. Barresi’s point is, well, we are doing great! These reforms are kicking in and we can see it, even though there is room for improvement.
But now, the point she’s making is: These public school leaders who didn’t support me? What do they know? Look how dumb they are! They are doing just awful, aren’t they? They should have listened to me.
So now those bogus grades are out, and the two candidates for State Superintendent were expected to make statements, which they did in print, but also on camera for Tulsa TV station KTUL.
A closer look at those videos, one after the other, show some interesting contrasts.
John Cox focused on how the whole grading system was designed to make public schools look bad anyway. He has the freedom to say that because he is a public school superintendent himself and is a Democrat. Democrats in Oklahoma, at least, are not too deep in the hip pockets of the reform lobbyists. And so his comments in this video are very clear.
But even though Republican Joy Hofmeister‘s responses are critical of the current system, they are far more nuanced and raise more questions in turn about pressures she may be receiving to maintain the reformist “accountability” focus. There are some strong “have-to” statements about accountability within her larger response in this video.
Even though Hofmeister has tried very hard in the past to distance herself from failed reforms and especially wide-open charter school efforts, these have-to statements about accountability possibly reveal pressure from some quarter, but where? Who could it be?