Dr. Barresi – I Bid Thee Adieu!

By miller727@icloud.com January 6, 2015 Uncategorized 7 Comments

Many of us got a chuckle from Bruce Plante’s editorial cartoon in this morning’s Tulsa World. The cartoon features a seemingly despondent Bruce at his drawing table being consoled by a colleague with the words: “Don’t worry, Bruce. There will be another Janet Barresi to pick on.” In case you missed it, you can see the original HERE.

As someone who has taken my fair share of swipes at our state superintendent’s assorted flapdoodles and SNAFUs over the past few years, I suppose I share a measure of Mr. Plante’s angst about the coming loss of a very reliable source of editorial material. In fact, several people have asked me directly, “Rob, won’t you be sad when you can no longer write about Janet?” My honest answer is: “No, not a bit.”

While Barresi’s exploits have been front and center in a number of my posts over the past eighteen months, my primary objective as a blogger is to generate conversation, provide information and research, and work collectively with others to improve public education for Oklahoma’s children. It’s not my fault that Dr. Barresi has been so adept at walking directly into the field of fire.

For this reason,  it is my fervent hope that this will be my final post about Janet Costello Barresi, D.D.S.

Since this will be my last opportunity to tell it like it is relative to our state superintendent, here is my humble and honest opinion. Dr. Barresi has been a hollow shell of a leader, possibly well-intentioned yet certainly ill-informed, who has continually demonstrated a lack of capacity to innovate, problem solve, cooperate, or compromise. She has simply been a blind ideologue to the dogma of national reformers like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his like. Her lips are bright red from drinking the Koolaid dispensed from corporate entities and politicians seeking to gain influence and profit through the intentional and purposeful dismantling of public education. But that’s just me.

If you disagree with me, try to name ONE original reform implemented under Dr. Barresi’s leadership that DID NOT come directly from the “non-partisan” American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) or from Jeb Bush and his Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and/or Chiefs for Change. The reality is not a single reform implemented in the last four years was Janet’s idea. She was just a “good soldier” following orders from above. The children of Oklahoma deserved better.

So when Janet says in her letter to the Tulsa World today that “her reforms will continue to strengthen public education in the state,” she is either being disingenuous or speaking out of ignorance. They are not “her” reforms and she has absolutely no evidence they have strengthened anything.

When she claims, “opinions of how to improve student achievement often differed,” she simply means that she was RIGHT and others were WRONG, particularly us self-serving school administrators and our lazy, incompetent, union-protected teachers. For Janet, it is either kneel and kiss her ring, or bend over and kiss . . . well, something else!

Dr. Barresi has often come across as angry and defensive in her rhetoric because she lacks the educational experience, professional judgement and discernment to fully comprehend the context of today’s schools as complex social organizations—entities which all too frequently are being asked to somehow “cure” the societal challenges brought about by dysfunctional neighborhoods plagued by poverty, inequality, crime, drugs, and broken homes.

Janet foolishly believes that the solution to helping children struggling to meet current expectations is to make the expectations even higher with no additional supports. Yelling “jump higher” at children unable to reach lower heights is both heartless and immoral. Likewise, Janet believes that the best approach to motivate educators to work harder or more effectively is to disparage them publicly, blame them for the ills of society, and punish them using highly inaccurate and misleading evaluations and school grading systems.

In short, Janet just doesn’t get it, and likely never will. She had four years to listen, learn, and lead. On almost every account, she failed. The sad part is she likely is too blind to realize it.

On the other hand, maybe it is precisely the CLARITY of realizing she doesn’t get it which is the source of her anger.

A final piece of evidence to illustrate Janet’s delusional thinking is the final sentence in her letter: “As I leave office, I will continue to advocate that the critical work on reform move forward unaltered. By staying on course and maintaining the positive momentum achieved to date, Oklahoma’s youngest generation will have a brilliant future.”

On behalf of thousands of parents, students, and educators across Oklahoma, my response to that comment is: “No thank you, Janet.” We do not need your help any longer. We do not need your disdainful words or failed ideas. We ask that you please just ride away into the sunset and leave us alone to clean up the significant mess left behind in your wake.

Maybe then, and only then, will our children truly enjoy a brighter future in a caring and compassionate educational system: one that treats each child as a unique and precious human being who deserves our love and support, and not merely a standardized widget on a corporate assembly line.

Dr. Barresi, I have waited a long time to type these words. I do wish you well in your future endeavors outside of education and hope you lead a long and happy life. But, it is time for me to say goodbye and good riddance.

With that, at precisely 9:40 pm on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015, I bid thee adieu!

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