Monday, October 10, 2011

Fortunately, Jenks & Union Administrators Are Not Representative of All Educators

By state Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, author of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Act, printed in the Journal Record today.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Recently, defenders of administrators in Jenks and Union schools have claimed any criticism of them is somehow an attack on all educators.
Sorry, but that dog won’t hunt. The core issue is too easy to understand and the administrators are clearly in the wrong.
In a nutshell, these two districts are suing parents for doing what is best for their kids.
These parents are using the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Act, which allows students with a disability on an individualized education program (IEP) to receive state-funded scholarships to attend private school. The scholarships are funded with money already designated for the child’s education.
Jenks and Union administrators don’t like the law. However, rather than properly challenging it in court, they chose to sue parents of special-needs children seeking scholarships.
It is inexcusable that district administrators would sue parents for being too involved in the education of their own children.
The proper way for them to challenge the law is to sue the state.
There’s an Oklahoma City attorney who routinely challenges state laws in court with some success.
If a private citizen can do it, surely these two administrators (and their expensive law firm) can figure it out.
They could have challenged the scholarship law in court before it went into effect more than a year ago. They didn’t.
The schools’ boards eventually voted to sue the state attorney general to challenge the law, but never did.
These administrators continue to reject legitimate avenues to challenge the law.
Instead, they are suing parents of children with very real special needs in an attempt to punish these families and intimidate others. Rather than work to provide quality educational opportunities for each child, Jenks and Union are attempting to “make an example” of families who already face significant challenges.
For these reasons, I have been an outspoken critic of Jenks and Union administrators. People are free to disagree, but to claim all teachers in Oklahoma should be lumped together with those administrators (as Scott Carter did in a recent column) slanders the reputation of every hard-working teacher in the state.
My criticisms have been directed at the administrators of these two districts and not the educators in my family or educators in general. To say otherwise is simply desperate political spin. I don’t need rhetorical misdirection to make my case. Apparently, defenders of these administrators can’t say the same thing.
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