A Democratic candidate for state schools superintendent Tuesday accused Gov. Mary Fallin of attempting to bully and intimidate teachers and superintendents into keeping quiet about their objections to the state's A-F system for grading schools.
Fallin threatened educators that if they continued to publicly criticize the grading system, they would face reductions in funding next year, candidate Ivan Holmes said in a news release.
“This is unheard of in a democratic society where you have a governor of a state tell educators to shut up and go away or lose the funding necessary to educate our kids. Governor Fallin is attempting to blackmail, harass, intimidate and threaten our educators over their dissatisfaction with the current A-F grading system,” Holmes said.
Fallin's office issued its own news release Tuesday denying that statements made in Fallin's behalf by gubernatorial spokesman Alex Weintz were a threat to educators.
“Governor Fallin has not and will not threaten funding for schools based on opposition to the A-F grading system,” Weintz said in the latest news release. “She is asking that groups representing superintendents reconsider their endorsement of a report that argues that education cannot make a significant impact on student performance.”
Weintz said the governor disagreed with some of the findings in an OU/OSU report that concluded nonschool factors such as poverty have a greater impact on test scores than the teaching that occurs in classrooms.
The report claims nonschool causes are responsible for more than 70 percent of student test performance, while the impact of schools is “routinely found to be between 20 percent and 30 percent.”
“Governor Fallin rejects that argument,” Weintz said. “She believes that all children have the ability to learn given the opportunity.”
Weintz said the governor is asking groups representing superintendents to reconsider their endorsement of the report.
Holmes ripped the governor for challenging the OU/OSU report.
“To question either the motivation or research results from our two flagship universities is appalling,” Holmes said. “Governor Fallin and Superintendent (Janet) Barresi have a lot in common: Neither have any formal education or experience in public education, but they are experts in everything.”
Weintz said the governor demonstrated her support for education by signing a budget this year that appropriates $90 million of new money for K-12 education.