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School change driven by policy, not conspiracies

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: February 17, 2013

In the Public Interest notes that testing vendor Pearson donated to Bush's foundation; Pearson is in the third year of a four-year Oklahoma contract. This means the contract was signed during the tenure of former state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett, a Democrat with no ties to Jeb Bush. Is there anyone not involved in this conspiracy?

In the real world, bribery isn't so complex. In Skiatook, custodial vendor Rick Enos gave $10,000 in bribes to then-Skiatook Superintendent Gary Johnson so Enos could overcharge the district $570,000.

In comparison, In the Public Interest argues there's a coordinated “pay to play” scheme involving potentially thousands of people at the highest levels of numerous state governments. In some settings, publicly declaring the existence of such a “conspiracy” would be considered a sign of mental illness, not investigative journalism.

Sadly, some gullible souls actually buy into this twaddle. Outgoing Oklahoma City School Board Chairwoman Angela Monson touted IPI's report on Facebook, vowing “to KEEP big business OUT of OKC Public Schools.” Apparently, although three-fourths of Douglass High School seniors may not graduate this year, Monson's priority was to ensure that no one competent made money educating them.

The question isn't whether private companies contract with Oklahoma schools. In a system expending billions annually, they do — for everything from textbooks to architectural work. The question is whether contracting is above board and transparent.

In the Public Interest fails to show otherwise — unless you're the type who also believes President Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim sleeper agent.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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