State of Oklahoma
House of Representatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2012
Representative Mike Shelton
State Capitol Building Rm. 539
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
Contact: Valorie Owens
Shelton Criticizes Political Posturing on A-F Grading System
OKLAHOMA CITY (October 10, 2012) The fiasco that has occurred over the state Department of Education’s A through F grading system is mired in controversy, and today one lawmaker called attention to the timing of key players who appear to have flip-flopped in their support of school grade cards.
“Although I applaud the decision to delay the release of grades for school districts, given their flawed methodology, I find it hard to believe that anything other than political pressure is influencing this turnabout to reasonable thinking,” said Representative Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. “We knew back in April of this year that the rules were not weighted fairly and were oppositional to public schools, but the Board of Education and Governor Mary Fallin bullied those who questioned the rules. Now, just a few weeks from Election Day, Superintendent Barresi’s anti-public education policies are proving disastrous to Republican races, and there’s this sudden change of heart and delays are being placed on the release of A-F grades.”
Rep. Shelton noted that this past legislative session he attempted to disprove the administrative rules adopted by the Board of Education for the A-F grading system, and this resolution (HJR 1125), passed out of the House Administrative Rules & Government Oversight Committee by a bipartisan vote of 9-1.
However, in response to and shortly following the committee vote, Gov. Fallin that same day issued a press release that she had approved the administrative rules.
Rep. Shelton stated that despite his efforts and the advocacy of educators and concerned citizens alike, Republican House leadership refused to allow the resolution to be heard on the House floor.
“The actions of Governor Fallin reflect the intent to distance the Republican Party from Superintendent Barresi and her poor public policies, at least until after the votes are cast on November 6th,” said Rep. Shelton. “She has proven to be an albatross for their party, and she continues to disrespect and defy all those who disagree with her, even her newly-appointed and hand-picked Board of Education!”
Yesterday, following the state Board of Education’s unanimous vote to delay the release of new A-F school grades, Governor Fallin stated that she thinks the board made the right call in delaying this release.
However, later in the day, Superintendent Barresi authorized her staff to inform all Oklahoma school districts that they may publically release these grades.
With this action Rep. Shelton called Superintendent Barresi’s judgment into question, given she circumvented the will of the board and authorized the release of grades that were inaccurate and uncertified.
“The last minute scrambling of Republicans to distance themselves from Supt. Barresi and the A-F grading system are nothing more than political posturing. It was Republicans alone who voted this grading system into law – and it is Republicans who are currently championing the efforts to consolidate our rural schools, close our public schools in favor of privately-run charter schools, and who support taxpayer dollars being diverted to provide vouchers for private schools. I hope Oklahomans remember that when they’re at the ballot boxes in November.”
House Bill 1456, which directed the Board of Education to create an A through F grading system, passed on fourth reading on May 2, 2011 by a vote of 59-31; no Democrats voted in support of this measure.