BY ARNOLD HAMILTON
My dear friend, and our founding editor, Frosty Troy argues that any Oklahoma teacher who votes Republican these days might just as well get up each morning and shoot themselves in both feet.
Several of my more conservative teacher friends – they’ve bought into the GOP-Religious Right-Values Voters claptrap – aren’t amused when I share this perspective.
But today, after the House approved one of the worst bills in recent memory, SB 834, they are surely getting the message: The theocrats driving the agenda in the Republican-controlled Legislature want to destroy public education – period.
They want church-schools or home-schools that amount to religious indoctrination centers.
What’s even worse about this travesty – which, if it becomes law, would put the final nail in former Republican Gov. Henry Bellmon’s marvelous HB 1017 reforms – is the anti-public ed schemers suckered the state’s school superintendents into embracing their divide-the-school-establishment-and-conquer-it strategy.
The superintendents ought to be ashamed of themselves but, alas, shame often is in short supply with some of these Napoleons who view their school districts as their personal fiefdoms and teachers as their serfs.
The only way to put a stop to this anti-public education crusade is for teachers, superintendents, parents and business leaders [yes, a strong public education system is essential to business growth!] to band together and push back – hard – against those who would destroy a quintessentially egalitarian institution that helped make America great.
Kudos to the one Republican who crossed the aisle and opposed SB 834: Rep. Lisa Billy of Lindsay. And a dart to the one Democrat who cast his lot with the GOP: Rep. Ryan McMullen of Burns Flat. The bill now returns to the Senate where its passage is widely considered a fait accompli.
It will be a stunner if Gov. Brad Henry doesn’t veto this measure, the brainchild of Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, and Rep. Tad Jones, R-Claremore – and trumpeted by the intellectually-challenged Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.
[What’s even more hilarious is how the anti-public ed crowd is spinning this as the “school district empowerment program.”]
The Democrats have the votes to uphold the veto and protect important principles, such as class-size limits and collective bargaining. The state’s teachers would be well advised to take note of who their real friends are.
– Arnold Hamilton is editor of The Oklahoma Observer