Hanta Yo! It's the Sioux phrase which can be roughly translated into "Lead the Way". Essentially, Hanta Yo is a meditative state of mind in which one calls on a higher power to provide them with the strength, faith, energy, ability, etc to accomplish what is necessary, but difficult or nearly impossible to accomplish on one's own. Hanta Yo is fitting for Oklahoma's Public Education; our task is difficult and to accomplish what we think is best for students, we need all the guidance, energy, focus, ability, and faith we can get.
Earlier this week, Kevin Hime of Clinton Public Schools wrote an excellent blog about the upcoming legislative session. If you haven't read it yet, you can read it here. Although, Kevin doesn't come right out and say it, he is telling us stop being reactive to the Republican legislative agenda and start LEADING Oklahoma education policy. Educators can LEAD us toward better ed policy by working with the Republican legislators to create policy educators know works best for students. Think this is impossible - it is exactly what we did for the right to local control on the 3rd grade retention law. Think that was a one time event? Not even close. Last January I sat and watched a panel of legislators tell a room full of administrators they couldn't even consider ACT and its battery of assessments as a possible upgrade to the End of Instruction catastrophe we have now. Last month, Senator Ford stated publicly he was open to legislation removing EOIs in favor of the ACT and Aspire to measure academic achievement.
Is this ideal? No. Does this end the terrible reign of over testing? Not even close. However, it does remove the policy of using a worthless test, and, at a minimum, gives our students the chance to take a test colleges actually look at when making college acceptance decisions. Should we accept this policy as an end result? No, but it is a step in the right direction for our students. And it all came to fruition because educators decided the cause was more important than ideology.
Let's consider the RSA law for a moment. Remember Gov. Fallin and Dr. Barresi worked the vote hard to override the local control of parents and schools to make decisions regarding student grade placement. The override failed. Children and parents won. How? Because parents, teachers, and administrators worked with the Republican majority to author a bill that was beneficial to #OKlaED AND could be supported by Republicans in the legislature.
Hanta Yo! Lead the Way! Educators need to stop being ideologues and accept guidance from our association directors so that we can move education forward. As educators we should pray for the strength, energy, ability, and perseverance to make Oklahoma public education better one policy at a time. We should educate ourselves as to what is possible and what is a pipe dream; we should start with acknowledging what is mandated by SDE rules, Oklahoma legislation, and what is required of us through the federal law. We should not waste precious energy and political capitol trying to change what is not within our state's power to change. Thus, we can't end testing, and we can't rid ourselves of accountability. We should work with legislators to make better policies for our students. We should allow Joy Hofmeister the chance to change SDE rules to make things better for us. We should lead the way for a better Oklahoma. Hanta Yo!