School grading bill merits Oklahoma Legislature's approval

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: May 13, 2013
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After The Oklahoman reported on the policy, Oklahoma City school officials were shamed into dropping it. However, variations of the grade-changing policy reportedly are occurring elsewhere, including Guthrie, Midwest City-Del City, Millwood, Putnam City, Tulsa, Western Heights and Yukon. Enns notes minimum-grade policies undermine teacher authority and morale.

Yet when HB 1313 was brought up on May 8, House members rejected it. The legislation failed 48-43; it needed 51 votes to pass. The bill may be brought up again for reconsideration.

Enns said opponents argue the bill infringes upon local control of schools. And, of course, Oklahoma school administrators furiously lobbied against it — which suggests minimum-grade policies are relatively widespread. Sadly, opposition among administrators isn't surprising.

When a similar truth-in-grading law passed in Texas, 11 Houston-area districts sued. The Texas AFT, a teachers' union, was among those who successfully defended the law. Texas AFT member Mary Roberts, a veteran teacher from one of the suing districts, said minimum-grade policies forced her to give inaccurate, unearned grades to students, which devalued real effort and achievement. She said struggling students could be helped without sacrificing educational standards.

“Getting something for nothing is not a lesson I care to teach,” Roberts said, “and I believe many educators feel the same.”

Lawmakers should approve this bill and send it to the governor. Those opposing HB 1313 aren't increasing local control. They're undermining local teachers.

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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