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ScissorTales: School board elections get failing grade

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: February 16, 2013

A campaign nadir

One of the low points of the Oklahoma City Board of Education chairmanship election was the incumbent's default to class envy and race-baiting strategies. This didn't result in another term for Angela Monson, but it does add to the sorry history of Democratic politicians taking this approach. Monson criticized her opponent for being so successful that “she does not have to work” and thus “spends much of her time volunteering.” She let voters know that students in the district are predominantly nonwhite and low-income. Imagine a campaign in a suburban district waged on the basis of a candidate being nonwhite or making too little money to understand the students' needs. Monson also blasted her opponent for sending a child to a private school. Bill and Hillary Clinton did that. So do the Obamas. So what? Monson was ousted by Lynne Hardin, a product of public schools who wants to see them brought closer to the standard of excellence they once enjoyed. Monson? As the Black Chronicle put it, she “neither has the ability nor the ideas required” to improve the district. Hardin narrowly won the election.

Where's the concern?

The Obama administration this week unveiled a system that's designed to make it easier for students and parents to compare colleges. President Obama mentioned the College Scorecard during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, and rolled it out the next day. It lets prospective college students compare such things as graduation rates, average costs and employment prospects upon graduation. The scorecard doesn't provide a ranking for schools, only a broad idea of where they fall in various categories. For example, it says the University of Oklahoma's net price is low to medium compared with peer schools. OSU's net price is at the low end. The system isn't perfect but the idea has merit. The same is true of Oklahoma's A-F grading system for public schools, which has been heavily criticized by the education establishment. Why no such howling over the president's plan?

Ethics nonsense

Patience O'Dowd of Placitas, N.M., and Jerilyn Davis of Norman have filed an ethics complaint against state Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow. They claim McNeil would financially benefit from legislation she filed to legalize horse slaughter because her family owns a livestock auction. Yet McNiel's bill does not require horses to go to auction before slaughter, and her family's business is not favored over any other auction site. Furthermore, there's not much money in horse slaughter. In California, news reports revealed such horses sold for as little as $50 at auction. That's hardly a road to riches, and McNiel says the bill is merely designed to prevent the dumping and starvation of old horses. If attorneys serving in the Oklahoma Legislature can vote on bills impacting lawsuits or workers' compensation, can't McNiel file one loosely related to auctions? This complaint appears a harassment tactic and should be tossed.

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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