In the 1950s America’s Edward Deming traveled to Japan to tell that country’s manufacturers about a revolutionary management style that depended heavily on input from frontline workers. Deming originally approached American manufacturers with his ideas but found them not only uninterested, but disdainful. Only then did he go overseas.
In those days “Made in Japan” were code words meaning “cheaply constructed, of poor quality,” but by following Deming’s management system that changed dramatically. Japanese products soon became the envy of the world for craftsmanship, quality and reliability. There was just something about asking the lower level folks, the ones on the frontlines, what needed to be done in order to make a product better.
It was a baby step in that direction but an important one when state legislators last week defied a top down approach favored by Gov. Mary Fallin and State Superintendent of Schools Janet Barresi by awarding more power to frontline educators in the matter of who controls whether or not an Oklahoma third grader gets promoted to the next level.
Fallin and Barresi supported the 2011 Reading Sufficiency Act. It allowed exceptions for students who don’t pass the literacy test, but like most ivory tower approaches, it denied the opportunity for input from those at ground level, i.e., local teachers and administrators.
The Legislature upheld the law, but awarded power to those on the educational frontlines too. Fallin vetoed this new wrinkle but legislators from her own party in both the House and the Senate overrode her objections.
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank in Oklahoma City, took exception, essentially saying the Legislature’s action was motivated by misguided compassion.
We think it was motivated by common sense. Who better knows these kids than the professionals who deal with them daily? No one.
Oklahomans have grown weary of being dictated to by those whose vantage point never touches the ground of educational reality. Voters will soon have the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction when they cast ballots to decide who should be our next state superintendent of schools.
Our recommendation is that the current occupant’s first term should be her last.
— The Ada News