As I prepared dinner yesterday, I watched the live floor debate of SB441 of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature. The crux of this bill is to create a minimum number of instructional days in a school calendar year – a good thing!
In recent years, nearly 100 districts in Oklahoma have added time onto the beginning and the end of the school day and either removed a Monday or a Friday. The main purpose of why schools have taken these measures is to save funds as the per pupil spending is down about fifteen percent since 2008 – a bad thing! – and class sizes and class loads have surged. Class sizes of thirty-five to forty students are not uncommon.
As I cut the sausage into equal widths to allow for uniform cooking (equitable pieces…a novel idea), it hit me that none of the ladies or gentlemen that spoke knew education. Indeed, all may have been well educated, but not a single one knew how to educate. No one spoke of the kids except a quick political theater snippet about “remembering the kids” – don’t mind me, I just threw up a little in my mouth.
As a whole body, the Oklahoma legislators would have a difficult time toasting bread with instructions. They continually make a common mistake of nearly all freshman theology students – failure to define the terms. I believe “to educate” has yet to be defined and agreed upon by all vested parties. The legislators want good grades, the parents want safe schools, the teachers want respect, and the students want to play and learn.
At my district, we test at the beginning of the year, the middle, and the end with the MAP tests to evaluate growth and performance – six weeks. Then, state testing – four weeks. Then, speciality tests such as the WiDA – twelve weeks. Total time in testing for the district is a minimum of twenty-two weeks for the district to prove good grades mandated by the State. School is in session for thirty-six weeks. That is the equivalent of the Oklahoma legislators, who work about seventy days with Fridays off (a four day work week – WTF?), working twenty-seven long days before their nine month summer vacation starts. Testing, in its present form, needs to pretend it’s Friday and take the day off!
Can we all agree testing is not education? nor is safety? respect? or play and learning? Wait, what? That last one sounds vaguely familiar and something this gentleman needs more of to turn that RLF (resting legislator face) upside down!