Win at all Costs!

If you have not read okeducationtruths post this morning, “All in for #Oklaed,” please take a few minutes to do so. It describes well the most important reason why we must elect a new superintendent to run the Oklahoma State Department of Education—that being that the current inhabitant has extinguished her capability to lead and manage the type of change necessary to move Oklahoma forward.

As oktruths sums up:

Because Oklahoma’s children continue coming to school, we must continue fighting to make school a better place. I believe in reform. I believe in school improvement. I also believe we all deserve a leader who is competent, understanding, and sincere.

Janet Barresi has pushed all her chips to the center of the table. It’s time we do too. It can’t just be the regulars who blog and tweet, either. We all have too much to lose.

The next nine days leading up to the June 24th primary will not be pretty. Dr. Barresi has thrown in more of her own money to run incessant television ads in an attempt to disparage and vilify her primary opponent, Joy Hofmeister.

Instead of running on her incredible strings of successes as state superintendent (because there aren’t any), Janet has resorted to meanness and deception in an attempt to fool enough voters to give her four more years.

My friend, James Scott, shared this potential cover for a Barresi autobiography which she can write after we vote her out of office.

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian philosopher who was one of the founders of modern political science.The greatest source of Machiavelli’s reputation is his treatise, “The Prince.” The main theme of this short book is that all means may be resorted to for the establishment and preservation of authority — the end justifies the means — and that the worst and most treacherous acts of the ruler are justified by the wickedness and treachery of the governed.

Although it is relatively short, the book is the most remembered of Machiavelli’s works and the one most responsible for bringing the word “Machiavellian” into usage as a pejorative.

According to, Machiavellian is defined as:

(1) being or acting in accordance with the principles of government analyzed in Machiavelli’s The Prince, in which political expediency is placed above morality and the use of craft and deceit to maintain the authority and carry out the policies of a ruler is described OR

(2) characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty: He resorted to Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead.

Here are a few quotes from “The Prince” that seem to describe well our current state superintendent and her demeanor towards educators, legislators, parents, … and basically anyone who doesn’t agree with her.

“And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.”

“It is much safer to be feared than loved because …love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

Dr. Barresi’s approach towards the educators she is supposed to lead is that we are a “necessary evil” associated with her position. Rather than working to garner our respect and trust, Barresi has used every opportunity to besmirch teachers, blaming them for “losing a generation of children,” and caring more about their jobs than the children they teach.  Barresi has created a hostile environment where compliance is forced and “carrots and sticks” are used to reward those who play the game by her rules and punish those who do not.

I know this reality well. As I have shared before, when hundreds of Jenks Middle School parents chose to opt their children out of field tests in the spring of 2013, Dr. Barresi– before taking the time to gather any evidence– immediately began a campaign to demean my character and go after my certification. She failed, and she has yet to speak with a single parent associated with this opt-out effort. She honestly doesn’t care what they have to say. Nonetheless, she still chose to exclude Jenks from any field testing this year to avoid having to deal with any dissent.

“Because there are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless.”

I like this quote because I think it defines Barresi’s decision-making process. Let’s be clear. Not a single one of Janet’s policy initiatives is her idea. The A-F grading system, third grade retention, state standards, charter schools and so on are all copied from Jeb Bush and other national reformers. Try to remember ONE innovative practice that Superintendent Barresi has implemented that has a significant effect on teaching and learning in Oklahoma. To go back to the quote, Janet does not comprehend by herself (she is just a vessel for national entities) and she certainly does not appreciate what others in our state comprehend or think. That leaves us with “useless.”

“He who becomes a Prince through the favour of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do, since all they ask is not to be oppressed”

Dr. Barresi has done very little to build relationships with her primary stakeholders: the teachers and administrators of Oklahoma public schools; the parents of Oklahoma’s school children; or the legislators with whom she must work to implement the reform agenda. It is incredibly telling that so many Republican legislators have come out for Joy Hofmeister’s candidacy. Do you recall seeing a news conference from Janet’s supporters in the state legislature to counter this argument. After calling their vote for HB 2625 “pathetic and outrageous,” does Barresi have any supporters left?

We are tired of being oppressed by a state leader who doesn’t get it, and more importantly, doesn’t care to get it.

I may not agree with Joy Hofmeister on every issue. However, I am certain that Joy will take the time to listen; to gather input from a variety of stakeholder; and collaborate with others to make decisions on behalf of children. This is why I will be voting for Joy on June 24th.

Janet Costello Barresi has had her chance. After three and half years, there are simply no intact bridges to the island of Janet. She has burned them all to the ground.

To paraphrase Oktruths, Oklahoma deserves a school leader who is competent, understanding, and sincere. This person is certainly NOT Janet Costello Barresi. Let’s remove her name from the equation on June 24 and replace it with Joy Hofmeister. Once we have accomplished this, we can begin talking about which of the remaining candidates is the best one to lead Oklahoma’s schools.

For now, it is win at all costs on June 24th.  



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One thought on “Win at all Costs!

  1. Looking for Hoffmeister’s headquarters. Wanting to pick up some yard signs. Does she have yard signs and does anyone know where her headquarters are?

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