To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Observercast

Keys To The Chevy

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BY SHARON MARTIN

Gov. Fallin and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Barresi have a goal: to privatize Oklahoma education.

With the appointment of Bill Price, a trustee for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, to the state school board, they are making clear their shared disdain for public education.

What does this mean to you? It means that you’ll continue to pay your taxes to support public education, but private companies will reap the rewards. Your children and grandchildren may or may not be accepted into these private schools. You will still be expected to pay your share, however.

How is it that we gave control of public education in Oklahoma to people who don’t believe in public education? Were Oklahoma voters asleep in the polling booths, or did they just think that other people would vote their interests for them?

Oklahoma’s education system wasn’t a Maserati, but it was a good, solid Chevy, and we just handed over the keys to the private education folks and let them drive our dependable car to the crusher.

As an educator who teaches zero-level reading courses at the college level, I know what students in Oklahoma have lost already. They’ve lost full-time reading specialists. They’ve lost librarians. They’ve lost funds for quality reading material in those libraries that still exist. They’ve lost time to read for pleasure and critical literacy because they must practice filling in test bubbles.

And why should the taxpayers pay for such frivolous expenses when the students and their parents, who also pay taxes, can pony up the extra dollars for remediation and zero level college classes?

The students in my class are sharp. If you doubt it, consider this conversation from just last week:

“I’ll be here at nine,” I told a student who wanted some extra help.

“You’re here until nine?” another student said. “I didn’t know the lab was open that late.”

“Not nine at night. I’m home by then. I have chickens to feed.”

The student looked at me for a moment, then asked, “You are speaking metaphorically, aren’t you?”

That’s a pretty good question from a student who only needed a reading specialist to help him succeed. We failed him because the anti-public-school folk think a reading specialist just costs too much.

Yes, that money [from your pocket and mine] is much better spent as profits for a private company.

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

 

Arnold Hamilton
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.