In spite of the recent state superintendent election, education reformers or deformers continue to wage war on public education. They are trying to convince the public the majority supports choice (public dollars to private schools), A-F school grading, 3rd grade retention, new standards etc. They are pushing an agenda that credits Janet Barresi's historic loss to her personality and how she treated people. First and foremost, Janet Barresi was swamped on June 24th because of her policies. If you will take a moment and go back in time with me, I think you will agree that her attitude, ruthlessness, and lack of personality had nothing to do with her loss.
The year is 2011 and Janet is the new state superintendent. She is attacking public schools and decides common core will save us. Her stump speech rhetoric centers on how Oklahoma students will fail the Common Core at an alarming rate and how these new standards will make our students college career ready but, WHAT IF Janet Barresi would have be championing the awesome teachers in Oklahoma. WHAT IF she would have said, "Standards do not make students College and Career Ready, Teachers do!" She may have followed up with "What Oklahoma's teachers need is the legislature to provide the resources needed to prepare students for the 21st century not new standards."
Remember when Janet acted like we did not even teach reading in Oklahoma until she was elected? She said, "I'll be dammed if we will lose another generation on my watch. " WHAT IF Janet Barresi would have been concerned with the teacher shortage and said "I'll be dammed if I will lose another of Oklahoma's great teachers to the state of Texas. Oklahoma needs to step up now and support our teachers and address teacher shortage for our students."
A-F Accountability was released controversially. Dr. Barresi passionately supported A-F and its accuracy despite numerous researchers telling her differently. WHAT IF when Oklahoma's two major universities researchers stated that A-F was not a reliable measuring stick she would have said "Our schools may need accountability and A-F seems simple ,but until we can get Oklahoma's top researchers to agree the system is reliable and valid we will not be releasing school grades."
Dr. Barresi is an adamant supporter of virtual, charter, and private schools. She tried to give away state and federal money to these schools. WHAT IF instead of trashing public school in order to prop up these other choices she would have declared, "I was elected superintendent of public instruction. My job is to support the education of public schools and assure they have the resources needed to be successful."
I am sure you could add to this list, but my point is, WHAT IF Dr. Barresi would have taken these positions with the same passion she took the opposite or wrong side she would be the State Superintendent for the next 4 years and Joy Hofmeister would still be on the State Board of Education. Although we have won some major battles including the 35,000 teacher March on the capitol and June 24th election we can not rest because the DOK and other deformers have not given up.