Now that the candidate filing period for 2014 has closed, we know that there will be seven candidates competing for the position of State Superintendent of Public Education. Okeducationtruths has already published an informative post about the candidates along with the important dates for the upcoming election process. The first critical date will be the party primaries on June 24th. On the Republican side there are three candidates: Janet Barresi, Joy Hofmeister, and Brian Kelly. John Cox, Freda Deskin, Jack Herron, and Ivan Holmes make up the Democrat side.
With this important election less than ten weeks away, I thought it would be timely to remind voters of the incredible contributions that our current superintendent has made during her first term in office. I have done my best to narrow the list to just ten, but I am sure you can come up with even more reasons to give Dr. Barresi a serious look during the upcoming election season. With that in mind, here are my TOP TEN reasons to re-elect Janet Barresi, D.D.S to another four-year term.
10. Janet is freaking hilarious. Just listen to her jokes on serious issues. Based on her extensive experience talking with people with no clue, she recently reiterated her contention that 70% of students on IEPs are assigned because they can’t read, and not because of a diagnosed learning disability. She also recently said that an English language learner should be able to acquire academic language proficiency in one year. Come on, that’s funny stuff!
Janet also uses clever analogies like “drinking milkshakes through a cocktail straw” to explain why schools are too incompetent to provide technical support for online testing. And how about this Barresi zinger from a December TW article: “There will not be double testing next spring; students will just be taking two different tests instead of one.” How could I forget her hilarious use of the acronym SNAFU to describe the A-F grading process last October? My favorite: the Oklahoma College and Career Readiness Assessment Portal (OCCRAP). This is pure genius! She should be the anchor on SNL’s Weekend Update.
Finally, when I am feeling a little down after a hard day at work, I just queue up her hilarious “I’ll be damned” rant from last November where she accused educators of “losing a generation of kids.” She never did say where we put them. This still makes me LMAO. I wonder if she writes her own material!
Now that I think of it, Janet might be better suited to be a standup comedian instead of a superintendent because mocking the people you ostensibly lead doesn’t do much to build loyalty or bring people together. She does provide lots of good blog material though!
9. Janet is a great speaker. Do you remember this wonderful speech she made at the “start-of-term feast?”
“Hem-Hem… Thank you, headmaster, for those kind words of welcome. […] The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of a vital importance. Although each headmaster has brought something new to this… historic school, progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged. Let us preserve what must be preserved, perfect what can be perfected and prune practices that ought to be… prohibited!”
Oh, wait a minute. I think I have confused Janet with Dolores Umbridge again. When Janet wears that pink dress, it is almost impossible to tell them apart!
8. Janet has presided over the greatest relative cuts (22.8%) to common education in the NATION over the past four years. Despite Oklahoma passing the largest budget in state history last year, the percent allocated to common education was $124 million less than 2009. The common education share of the state budget has dropped from 36.1% to 33.8% since 2008. And 33.8% represents common education’s smallest share of the state budget since before 1991. This allows our state to spend more money fixing pot holes, building prisons, and giving much needed tax breaks to oil companies and very wealthy Oklahomans—like Janet Barresi!
7. Janet is best buds with Jeb Bush. If there was ever an expert on “fixing public schools,” it would have to be Jeb, though Arne Duncan and Bill Gates could give him a run for his money. During his reign as Governor of Florida, statewide ACT scores dropped a full point from 20.6 to 19.6, the largest decline in the nation over that period relative to the national trend. Say what you want, this man knows how to destroy public schools. And Jeb Bush might run for president in 2016. And he drinks white wine—that’s cool!
5. Janet is firmly against the Common Core State Standards (CC$$). This is despite Governor Fallin’s position as acting President of the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and Janet’s position on the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)—the two agencies that supported the development of the CC$$. Janet and Mary are both firmly opposed to any federal intrusion on our Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS). As a result, they will tell you that our state standards were developed from hours of painstaking work copying and pasting the CC$$ in their totality into our completely new and original Oklahoma Academic Standards. The OAS bear little resemblance to the original CC$$— unless you compare the actual words, sentences, and punctuation—in which case they are exactly the same.
At the same time, Janet brought in expert curriculum writers like Representative Sally Kern to read our new state academic standards line-by-line to ensure that any and all references to human evolution, climate change, radioactive dating, the Big Bang theory, poptarts, homosexuality, drugs, binomials, semi-colons, communism, gun control, the Civil War, the purple Teletubbie, the Democratic party, and President Obama are stricken from our standards. We can’t have the Feds brainwashing our children with radical ideas.
4. Janet is a great listener. Just ask your local superintendent how many times Janet has called to get his or her opinion on anything.
3. Janet is a master negotiator. Remember last July when she was able to coerce the multi-billion corporation CTB/McGraw-Hill to compensate the state with a whopping $1.2 million for their botched administration of last year’s EOI testing. This include $674,000 in voluntary benchmark tests for second graders, a service that no one in Oklahoma was asking for. I wonder what happened to all this money? By the way, you probably know we are paying CTB over $8 million to administer our testing again this year.
2. Janet wants to pay teachers an extra $2,000 a year. Many district Superintendents and Chief Financial Officers were caught completely by surprise with Janet’s simple and well-researched plan to give all teachers an extra two grand. To paraphrase, Dr. Barresi told districts that they should simply dip into the mountains of cash they have lying around and simply give the money to their teachers. One superintendent was overheard saying, “You mean we can use that money to pay teachers— I never knew.”
Upon further analysis (see #6 above), it was discovered that this plan was just political pandering. If districts actually followed this plan, they would risk pushing their schools into insolvency and likely cause the firing of teachers and staff in future years. But, hey, teachers would at least have an extra $2,000 to start that new job search. Thanks, Janet!
And the number one reason we should reelect Janet Barresi:
1. We love the status quo. We love being told how to educate our children by a person who hasn’t taught a class in over twenty years. We love being told how we should spend our money by someone who couldn’t pass a basic test of school finance. We love to have our schools ranked and punished based on misleading and inaccurate A-F grades. We love the idea of even more lengthy and difficult state tests for our students. We love the anticipation of telling some of our third grade students that they are failures and will have to repeat a grade while their friends move on. We cannot wait until we can start punishing our teachers with the test scores of their students, especially those who work with our most disadvantaged children. We appreciate the challenge of trying to do more with less, seemingly year after year. More than anything, we enjoy being disparaged and belittled by the very individual who is supposed to be the chief advocate for public education in Oklahoma.
What’s NOT to like about the prospect of Janet Barresi serving another four years as our State Superintendent? EVERYTHING!