Monday, October 18, 2010

Hats off to Sandy Garrett, Patrick Anderson

[This Marlin Oil advertorial appears in this week's edition of The City Sentinel.]

In an interview with CapitolBeatOK last week, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett said public school board members in four different northeast Oklahoma public school districts are defying implementation of the new “Lindsey’s Law” assisting special-needs children.

Garrett said the recalcitrant school board members were in violation of their oaths of office. The exiting leader of the state’s public schools could not have been more blunt:

When I took office as Superintendent of Public Instruction, I swore an oath to obey federal and state laws. I have sought every day to uphold that promise. Whether or not I like a particular law is not material. It is my job to obey the law and to implement it.

The way I look at it, the local officials on these boards of education who have acted not to comply, or to prevent implementation of this program in their districts, are not fulfilling their duties.

I believe they are in violation of their oaths of office. This law was passed, and implemented in a timely manner by the state.

To be clear, in my work every day there are laws I don’t necessarily agree with but which am required to carry out.

Concerning board majorities in four districts, and the Tulsa law firm who counseled them to defy the new law, Superintendent Garrett said, “I think these school board members have been ill-advised.”

State Sen. Patrick Anderson, a mild-mannered Republican from Enid, has compared the movement against the new law to the “massive resistance” of the bad old days in the south, when several southern governors defied desegregation rulings. Some went so far as to “stand in the schoolhouse door” to keep black children from getting into the schools.

The new law bears the name of Lindsey Nicole Henry, an infant daughter of Governor Brad Henry and his wife, Kim, who died of a rare disease two decades ago. It provides scholarships to disabled children, identified as having “special needs,” so they can go to the school that best fits their needs.

It’s as American as apple pie. Garrett and Anderson deserve honor for fighting the good fight for these kids. 

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