Glorious, Not Pathetic

I was more than a little irritated by comments from our State Superintendent of Public Instruction after the legislature overrode the veto of HB 2625 earlier this week. She called the override “outrageous and pathetic.” I promise you it was neither outrageous nor pathetic when I got to call my grandson’s parents and tell them the bill had passed.

You see, my grandson missed passing the test by 10 meaningless points. As a result of HB 2625, he and 7,969 other students will not be labeled as failures based on one test on one day. My call seemed especially appropriate since the bill passed on the very same day my grandson received passing grades in all his subjects. No, Superintendent Costello Barresi, there was not one single thing about that which was outrageous or pathetic – especially telling them that those 10 points were no longer a punitive punishment.

Additionally it was neither outrageous nor pathetic to be in the gallery when the vote was announced. It was quite the opposite. The word awesome would better describe the experience of seeing our legislators act in a nonpartisan fashion to improve education. There were cheers and tears from the gallery of the House when the vote was declared. Cheers that our voice was heard and tears of joy from parents and teachers that the nightmare of labeling and bullying 8- and 9-year-olds has ended. There were hugs shared among people who had come together for a common cause.

It is not at all outrageous or pathetic to know that decisions about what will be best for third graders both academically and socially will now be decided individually by those who know the child personally---their teachers and parents. It will no longer be a decision made solely by a one-size fits all test which in no way reflects the child’s total abilities. It will be a decision based on both their strengths and growth instead of totally focused on weaknesses. What a victory!

Perhaps the words outrageous and pathetic better describe the legislators who were afraid to oppose the Governor for fear it would hurt them politically. Granted there were some of the 19 no votes – 17 in the House and 2 in the Senate – who truly felt they did what’s right. I get that. It’s the ones I talked to who, despite calls from their constituents and the people being affected, were still voting no because it could hurt them politically. Our students should not be used as pawns for their political aspirations. Thankfully, 79 of our House members and 45 of our Senators put our students’ needs ahead of their own political aspirations.

It was far from pathetic or outrageous to see how powerful we are when parents, teachers, support professionals and administrators work together. We all shared the same message – do what is best for Oklahoma’s children with input from those who work with the child daily. When we unite and do the right thing for the right reasons we make a difference.

I think our State Superintendent needs to try advocating for our students and public education. She will find it’s far from outrageous or pathetic. In fact, it’s quite a rewarding experience.

To each of you who did just that by contacting your legislators about HB2625 – thank you! You made a difference in the lives of nearly 8,000 third graders. And a special thank you from my grandson and his family!



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