To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Observercast

A Fool And His Errand

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BY JO PERRYMAN

An open letter to state Rep. Dan Fisher, R-Yukon:

I am disappointed in your decision to use your position in our state government to further embarrass the citizens of this state by promoting views that make Oklahoma look even more shameful in the education of our children!

House Bill 1380 is only another example of the House leadership’s attack on public education as you take part in funneling even more funds to private and charter schools while depriving the vast majority of the children of this state an equal opportunity to a superior education.

Have you even stepped foot in an AP classroom? Do you know firsthand what you are alleging is true or are you just attacking blindly? Do you have one isolated case or do you have any support for this at all? Isn’t your attitude frighteningly similar to the attitude of Germans who rewrote their own history books and doctored photographs to match the image they wanted in an attempt to cover up images and evidence of horrid travesties?

Maybe we should burn everything that isn’t the Bible and close our eyes and plug our ears to any idea that doesn’t agree with our own views. And by the way, whose religious views do you want us to teach in the schools? Yours? Obviously, no views that contradict you have any value to society!

The accusation is that AP courses are actually Common Core and since Common Core was repealed then all AP courses should be discontinued or have state funding removed. In reality Common Core was modeled after AP courses. The difference is that AP courses are not required classes and Common Core was. Common Core required all students to work at an advanced AP-like level which is ludicrous. This attitude fails to take into account the academic strengths and weakness found within each of us.

This Common Core argument is either based on ignorance of the facts or a dishonest attack on courses for advanced level students.

As an educator, parent, and citizen of this state, I demand that you withdraw this bill and turn your attention to improving education in this state instead of sending us into the Dark Ages. I would assume, according to the attitude that would allow the depiction of our history in only a positive light, that you fail to see the value of recognizing our mistakes and learning from them.

I have been told that you claim to be a Christian. Well, the Bible that I read enforces the belief that this recognition of error is essential to our salvation, so is it not also of value in secular improvement?

I am disgusted. I am frightened. I am hopeless. How can our government become so ignorant as to believe that our citizens cannot be trusted to evaluate varying opinions and interpretations?

If you continue on this course, the damage that you will do to our society will be immeasurable. These actions read like so many books that I teach where the government controls the dissemination of information to the point that the public can be led to follow any dictum because they have lost the ability to reason.

AP classes are exactly what the title says – advanced. They are the classes that reach higher in developing analytical skills in high school students who have mastered the fundamentals. These are not required courses but yet are open to any student who has the interest and drive to become more college prepared.

Why in the world would you think that taking these classes away would be a good idea?

Jo Perryman is an AP Language instructor at Chickasha High School. A copy of this letter was sent to all Oklahoma lawmakers.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Every newspaper needs a comic section, and Oklahoma continues to insure there is sufficient material provided! The comments regarding actions by our state government are no longer, “What!?” – but, “Not again!” There are multiple reasons for protecting AP classes. As a retired Oklahoma teacher, I will state that my advice to many parents was to enroll their students in AP classes if at all possible. I did so with my son, who had stated that he’d have a better education with a “B” in an AP class than an “A” in a regular class. Why? The quality of the material presented at times didn’t vary much in content; but truthfully, the majority of students in AP classes “wanted” to learn and escaped the discipline problems of students whose behavior constantly kept the regular class 10 pages behind. Yes, there were students who “wanted” to learn in regular classes and I wish they could have been placed in AP classes. However, they attended with students who did nothing but repeatedly disrupt the class. Concentration is impossible when a teacher interjects reprimands, repeated instructions, etc. every 5 minutes. Remove the repeat offenders? Many schools request that the teacher speak with the parent before removing a student. The office doesn’t want them because there is no where to put them, continued inappropriate behavior, and so forth. Students cannot be placed in the halls as there is no supervision. A teacher cannot call a parent in front of other students or on the break between classes because teachers are required to be in the halls to control behavior, so calls are made after school / at night. Some parents cannot be reached and if a message was left, a return call is received several days later and sometimes not at all. (The same student has returned knowing there was no consequence for his actions, and guess what – a repeat performance.) There are also parents who tell the teacher it is their job to discipline the student while in school and suggest they do their job and not call again. (By the way, I was one of those teachers.) There are many who defend almost any behavior and twist the offence to blame the teacher and another student or students. Some students are removed into a disciplinary situation over and over with instructions that have to be provided over and above classroom preparation. Multiple times the student returns having done minimal to nothing in the way of work.

    And now I have read that at all costs these “mistreated” students must not be removed from the educational setting because they are being deprived of an education. At all costs? At all costs my son and those students I respected and loved in my classrooms and those in all other classrooms deserved an education. When the parents of the good “kids” decide they’ve had enough, the educational system will change. Feeling sorry for and understanding the causes of student behaviors is not the question. Many tears have been shed for those repeat offenders by caring teachers, but we are teachers nevertheless. Our job is to teach – to teach those with high or low intelligence, those with disabilities, home problems, health problems, etc.

    Home schooling is not the answer. Removing AP classes is not the answer. AP classes are an invaluable addition to your student’s knowledge base and preparation for college or at least for intelligently facing the world. My son recently graduated from college thanks to many wonderful teachers, especially his AP teachers who presented education as a world of wonder to explore. In addition, if this is an attempt to control content, mainly religion, by all means, include classes that present an overview of all religions. Your student can compare, question and therefore strengthen his / her personal beliefs. I taught students of all faiths and watched them learn, prosper and grow under the guidance of their home / church instruction. Of course, your job is to keep them safe and protected. However, my question to anyone afraid of instruction or lack thereof regarding religion, “Do you truly mistrust or find your God / Belief system not powerful enough to lead your student correctly on his or her own path?” Teach them and trust in them, yourself and your belief system! Many of you have created strong, confident students who stand behind your belief system; and whether or not those beliefs were mine, it was an honor, not only to teach them, but to have met them.

  2. An excellent analysis of the situation. Why handicap our brightest students? This legislation makes Oklahoma legislators look like they do not care about providing a decent education to their children. Perhaps they don’t.

  3. One of the signs recalls an education reform that Oklahoma tried several years ago. It was called Outcome Based Education (OBE). The guiding principal was for teachers and curriculum directors (not school boards) decide what each discipline (Class) had as its end of year outcome. From that determination each teacher created his or her year backwards with each lesson feeding from the preceding lesson. It forced teachers to create lessons and activities that were related to outcomes. If a student did not pass a test, he or she was given remediation activities directed toward achieving the outcome. When a student was assessed again, the goal was that he or she would demonstrate success on the previous outcome as well as any new outcomes. Some educators misapplied the concepts and would retest rather than remediate. Some parents decided that the goal was test scores and not demonstration of learning. And the Communist label raised its ugly head. It was a beautiful concept that empowered teachers, forced teachers to evaluate what they did in the classroom, and allowed students to coach other students and reaffirm their own learning. In the materials for OBE was a quote, “If you keep doing the same things in the same ways, the results will continue to be the same.”

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.