Like most people with little or no experience in the classroom, regardless of their position or intention, she obviously works on the basic belief that the enemies to education are the very people in the rooms with the students, the teachers, and that the only people interested in students are the administrators, who are employed at will, and who must constantly impress their bosses, or support them in whatever they decide is best, even if they know otherwise, and who aren’t always truthful when representing themselves and their ideas to their superiors.
The first time any evidence in my favor which could prove, as it did, that the accusations were based on personal pettiness, as opposed educational performance, was at the trial de novo that Barresi is so glad is now gone. It is as if she assumes all administrators are 100 percent truthful at all times, and that if accused, a teacher is automatically guilty. This is an easy stance to take by someone who never taught classes, and whose loyalty clearly goes to those outside the classroom like herself.
Until the trial de novo, all evidence and testimony was controlled by the district-appointed hearing officer and the administration’s out-of-district attorney.
There are educators both in the classroom and administrations elsewhere who are able to separate conformity to a principal’s pet procedures and compliance with a principal’s personal requirements from true educational reform. They can recognize the desire of administrators for self-preservation and self-promotion for what it is, in spite of administrative attempts to make it appear their actions are for the children.
Any educator who bases leadership on the premise that teachers are somehow the enemies in the educational system sows the seeds for failure. It has always amazed me that those who claim to be pro-student have in the majority gotten away from students as fast as possible, or may have never worked directly with them, and not only ignore those closest to students, but treat the teachers with an alarming and contagious disrespect.
Barresi will only find success for Oklahoma’s children when she starts respecting teachers and begins to accept that those closest to the students may know more about what is going on in education and what needs to be done to better things than those who have no direct connection with students.
Education in Oklahoma will continue to fail until administrators such as Barresi start respecting, talking to and consulting with the teachers who have chosen to remain in the classrooms and stay away from the ivory towers of administration. Too many good teachers have been lost, and will continue to be lost, to the personal agendas of self-serving administrators. And this, in the end, will be the greatest disservice to our students.
Quigley is a former English teacher for Oklahoma City Public Schools.