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Political Irony: Figure This One Out

Here’s political irony: the same people who were supporting Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi and Common Core are now attacking Senator Josh Brecheen, claiming he supported her.

Brecheen opposed Barresi’s support of Common Core.

In politics, lobbyists may stand for children, but not always for the elected officials who stood with them. A new commercial by the non-profit organization Stand For Children attacks Brecheen by linking him to Barresi.

The group is reportedly targeting Brecheen for defeat because he authored the repeal of Common Core. Barresi was an ardent supporter of the controversial legislation.
See the commercial here: KXII_10-23-2014_05.27.30 (1)

Barresi Seeks Waiver Reinstatement

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi and senior staff from the State Department of Education (SDE) asked for immediate reinstatement of Oklahoma’s flexibility waiver from No Child Left Behind in a conference call late Monday with high-level officials from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).

“With word from the state Regents for Higher Education last week that our current state standards in English and math are indeed considered college- and career-ready, we have asked USDE for an immediate decision to return flexibility to Oklahoma schools,” Barresi said. “Such flexibility would come in the expenditure of federal funds and the removal of the burdensome federal requirements that exist under No Child Left Behind.”

The SDE will now begin the process of resubmitting the waiver request.

USDE rejected Oklahoma’s waiver extension request in August, saying the state was unable to demonstrate state standards were college- and career-ready. The decision came after a repeal of Common Core State Standards in English and math with the passage of House Bill 3399. The legislation directed the state to revert to Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) standards in the two subject areas, which had been in place prior to Common Core’s adoption in 2010.

When HB 3399 was signed into law in June, the SDE immediately asked the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education to help determine if PASS standards could be considered college- and career-ready. One of the definitions of such status is based on state college remediation rates, which in Oklahoma have hovered at about the 40th percentile for years.

On Oct. 16, the Regents announced that a study of PASS standards revealed that if students achieve mastery of the standards they could be considered college and career-ready.

The State Board of Education, in the meantime, is overseeing the process of writing new state standards in English and math. The standards are to be in place by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.

Coody Endorses Hofmeister

House Education Committee chairwoman Ann Coody, former principal of Lawton MacArthur High School, today endorsed Joy Hofmeister for State Superintendent of Education.
“She’s the right person at the right time to address our teacher shortage and increase compensation for our educators,” Coody said.
“This is a pivotal time and support for education is essential. We need a leader who can get it done. I know Joy is not only a strong supporter of public education, but she will lead and can accomplish what she sets out to accomplish,” Coody said.
Hofmeister said she’s honored to be supported by Coody, a 39-year public school educator, a classroom teacher, counselor, assistant principal, and nine years as the principal of MacArthur.
“Chairwoman Coody needs help in her drive to support public education. She’s been a champion, but needs help at the state Capitol. Together, I know we can build the coalitions needed to accomplish common sense reforms and adequate compensation for our teachers,” Hofmeister said.
“Ann will be in her last two years in the state Legislature, and we share a commitment to increase teacher compensation before she leaves the Legislature. It would be an honor to wage this battle with her.”
Hofmeister is a former member of the state Board of Education, who often disagreed with current Superintendent Janet Barresi. After sparks flew, Hofmeister spent a year campaigning to defeat Barresi, and she now faces the General Election on November 4.

Cox, Hofmeister Face Off In Claremore

Andrea Eger
Tulsa World

CLAREMORE — The candidates for state superintendent squared off on the issues of Common Core standards, standardized testing and teacher pay at a taped debate Tuesday in Claremore.

The event at Rogers State University featuring Republican Joy Hofmeister and Democrat John Cox will be televised by RSU-TV, broadcast channel 35 and Cox cable channel 109 at 8 p.m. Oct. 14. RSU-TV is also carried by area cable and satellite television providers. 

The two will face each other in the Nov. 4 general election.

Both candidates said one of the greatest challenges in state government today is the rewriting of math and reading standards for Oklahoma’s public schools to replace the Common Core standards that were thrown out earlier this year.

Hofmeister said federal intrusion into the Common Core standards adopted by more than 40 other states plus the failure of current State Superintendent Janet Barresi to listen to the early concerns of Oklahoma parents and teachers made moving forward with Common Core impossible.

“I am opposed to Common Core, but Common Core is not the only way,” she said. “We need standards with higher critical thinking and depth of knowledge. We have to make certain we are acting on evidence, that we bring in experts to look at models that are working in other parts of the country. Most importantly, we have to include Oklahomans in this process … It is not going to be an easy mess to climb out of, but we are going to solve this. Oklahomans have the heart and drive and we have the talent right here in Oklahoma. We can get it done but it is going to take a collaborative spirit.”

Hofmeister, of Tulsa, is a Kumon math and reading tutoring center owner and former public school teacher who served on the state Board of Education during State Superintendent Janet Barresi’s term and resigned to challenge Barresi for the position. She won all 77 counties in the Republican primary.

Cox, the longtime superintendent in Peggs, a K-8 district in Cherokee County, said he was excited about the repeal of Common Core standards because he opposed them from the start. He called for bringing together Oklahoma teachers from all grade levels to develop new academic standards for the state

“What this will do is the millions we spend on the implementation for Common Core, we can spend to implement our own new standards,” Cox said. “Teachers know from Point A to Point B what needs to be taught in their classroom. But they want something solid in their hands that they can then go out there and teach.”

Moderator Sam Jones, who hosts a show called “Green Country Perspectives,” challenged the candidates about the role of politics in the rewriting of the academic standards.

“Politics really should not interfere with having really strong high standards to prepare our students. We should act on evidence. We should go back and look at standards that have already produced the outcomes we want for our students,” Hofmeister said.

“We need high standards, assessments that are reliable, comparable and have diagnostic capabilities, and an accountability system that tells us how schools are doing and how they can be improved,” Hofmeister said.

Cox said the crux of the issue is leadership and he made his case for why he is more qualified.

“It is about an educator becoming state superintendent. Use the experts — our teachers throughout the state. It is time we start trusting them again and using them as professionals,” Cox said.

“If you want someone who is an educator and has been one for 29 years and lives it every day and understands what you go through, I am your person. I could step in there today, right now and take over and make a difference for public education.” Cox said.

Both candidates spoke of a common desire to reduce standardized testing and restore public respect and regard for classroom teachers.

When it came to questions about funding, Cox said repeatedly that he would advocate for another $200 million to increase teacher pay up to the regional average of about $35,000.

Hofmeister said, “There is job compensation and there is job satisfaction. We need to have both of those … More than just a paycheck, our teachers want respect and an environment where they can teach.”

She added that the limited dollars the state has to give means there needs to be a tougher look at “overegulation and overtesting” which she said has resulted in greater administrative needs and costs.

She also questioned how schools could be funded at 2008 levels when student enrollment in public schools has grown significantly since then.

Fallin: Barresi ‘needs to accept the fact that she lost the election’

Nathan Thompson
Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin told the Examiner-Enterprise on Tuesday that the recent actions of State Superintendent Janet Barresi were not wise, but she will not ask her to resign.

Barresi has come under fire for the recent appointment of Larry Birney as an assistant superintendent overseeing accreditation and compliance for the Oklahoma Department of Education. Baressi created the position and hired Birney just weeks before voters go to the polls to select her replacement.

Birney, who has an extensive background in law enforcement, was the executive director for the Council of Law Enforcement Education and Training from 2008 until 2011, when he resigned following the creation of a panel to investigate his conduct. Birney is the husband of Barresi’s general council, Kim Richey.

“I think that Supt. Barresi needs to accept the fact that she lost the election,” Fallin said. “She needs to exit her job gracefully when the job ends. There are only a couple of months left. I don’t think it would be helpful at this point in time to have a vacancy (of State Superintendent). I think she can help with a smooth transition to whoever the next superintendent is, and to keep things peaceful and calm. I don’t think she should be hiring new positions.”

Barresi made the decision to hire Birney by using the powers that were given to the Superintendent of Public Education following the passage of House Bill 2139 in 2011.

The language of the bill allows the governor to make appointments to the state Board of Education, and modifies the terms of office for board members from a staggered six-year term to a four-year term that mirrored the election cycle.

The bill also created a new law, which empowered the state superintendent to organize and control the administration of the Department of Education — including the hiring of personnel, their appointment and their salaries.

Fallin said in light of Barresi’s actions, she would be in favor of allowing legislators to revisit the authority of the State Superintendent.

“I think it would be helpful if the Board (of Education) had more authority to be able to make decisions independently and also work with me as governor,” she said. “I think it is something we should look into this legislative session. I look forward to working with our legislators that helped draft that original legislation and see if we can make a way to improve upon the language.”

Who Is Printing Fake Barresi Signs?

Lots of Republicans are asking today about yard signs with Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi’s name and photo.

The signs have been popping up, mostly in the Muskogee area. The photo was snapped by blogger Jamison Faught (

Some accuse unnamed Democrats of crafting the signs, others say it’s the Democrats who want to take control of the Department of Education in the November election.

Barresi, elected in 2010, was soundly defeated in the GOP primary, finishing third with less than 30 percent of the vote.

State PTA Calls For Barresi Resignation

The Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association is joining the chorus of calls for state Superintendent Janet Barresi to resign from office immediately.

Barresi has “continued to erode the relationship between the state Department of Education and the school boards, administrators, teachers and parents of Oklahoma public schools,” Oklahoma PTA President Jeffery Corbett said in a statement Friday.

The call comes a day after Lee Baxter, a member of the Oklahoma State Board of Education, demanded at the end of the board’s regular meeting that Barresi step down immediately rather than wait until her term is over in January.

Read the rest of this story at

Tulsa World Wants Barresi Resignation

Today’s Tulsa World calls for Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi’s resignation. A subscription is required to read the editorial online.

Barresi: ‘He’s a son of a bitch’

Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, offended by remarks made by a Board of Education member, called him a “son of a bitch” after the meeting. Here’s the Tulsa World’s report:

A State Board of Education member called for the immediate resignation of State Superintendent Janet Barresi at a Thursday morning meeting.

Lee Baxter, a Lawton resident who was appointed to the board by Gov. Mary Fallin in 2011, said he feels it is in the best interest of public education in Oklahoma that Barresi resign rather than wait to leave office when her term ends in January.

“I want the venom stopped. I’m sick of the lack of collaboration and blatant disrespect for our school administrators, and I think it needs to stop soon,” Baxter said. “The way I think that needs to happen is for the state superintendent to relinquish her role now. I don’t believe that will happen.”

Baxter’s comments came at the end of Thursday’s meeting in the State Capitol. Barresi sat lock-jawed during Baxter’s remarks, which went on for about five minutes.

She quickly adjourned the meeting and turned and watched as Oklahoma City board member Bill Shdeed shook Baxter’s hand and told him, “That took a lot of courage.”

Then Barresi turned to board member Bill Price of Oklahoma City and gestured animatedly with one hand and said, “He’s a son of a b—-!”

Baxter said he was responding to calls in a Wednesday afternoon press release and in public comments at Thursday morning’s Board of Education meeting by state Rep. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud. Smalley accused Barresi of cronyism for hiring the husband of a top state education executive in a new assistant state superintendent position.

A spokesman for Fallin said the governor had no comment on the calls for Barresi’s resignation.

Baxter acknowledged that Barresi has the authority to hire anyone she wanted, but he questioned why the hiring process wasn’t transparent enough for the state board members to be informed in advance. He also called it unethical, saying: “It’s cronyism. Anywhere it is cronyism.”

Smalley told the board earlier in the meeting, “Do not set the traps for the future for whoever sits in this position down the road. … Publicly call for these resignations and stand with me to do the right thing.”

After the meeting, Barresi told reporters she would not resign.

“I understand I have failed at politics, but I am not going to fail at my obligation to the children of Oklahoma,” she said.

She also pledged to provide her successor with “robust transition” assistance even though “that opportunity was not afforded to me by my predecessor.”

Barresi, who was defeated in June’s primary election, recently created a new position — assistant state superintendent of accreditation and compliance — and hired the husband of her general counsel Kim Richey to fill it.

Richey’s husband, Larry Birney, is a career law enforcement official who made headlines statewide when he resigned as executive director for the Council of Law Enforcement Education and Training, or CLEET, in Ada in 2011 after three years there. The resignation came after a formal panel was formed to investigate his conduct.

He worked previously as an officer with the San Antonio Police Department for 35 years.

Baxter, in his remarks, said the nature of Birney’s exit from CLEET was yet another one of his reasons for questioning the hire. But he made a point of saying how much he respected Richey as an attorney and appreciated her legal counsel to the board.

In a press release sent out Wednesday afternoon, Smalley said it was “a good ol’ boy hire” and called for the immediate resignations of Barresi, Richey and Birney.

That wasn’t the sole issue Baxter cited in calling for Barresi’s resignation. He said no real progress on the development of new English and math standards for Oklahoma public schools can occur as long as Barresi is associated with the process.

“What’s now been done is to create a system for Oklahoma that stands separate from the state superintendent and separate from the state Department of Education because, sadly, today anything with education associated with the state department has become toxic,” he said. “It can’t pass in the Legislature. It can’t be supported by teachers. It can’t be supported by administrators. It can’t be supported by parents. It’s simply toxic.”

New standards are going to be developed because the Oklahoma Legislature voted to remove the Common Core standards being used in most other states earlier this year.

Barresi had initially tapped Teri Brecheen, executive director of reading and literacy at the state Education Department, to oversee a multi-tiered standards-writing process that called for several rounds of public meetings. But this summer, the state board rejected that plan as too complicated.

Baxter said Barresi had “been quick to point the finger” at the state board for delaying the process, but he said Barresi herself made that delay necessary and it could drag on as long as she remains in office.

“That’s why the move to set standards has gone slowly — we want standards for our kids that Oklahoma accepts, not rejects. If that takes an extra couple of months so be it,” he said.

“I also reject the idea the only people who know or want reform are within the state (education) department and with the superintendent. I know I want it, I know the governor wants it, I know the Legislature wants it, most of the superintendents I know want it, and I know parents want it.”

He said he hopes Oklahoma elects a state superintendent “who favors reform and at the same time is willing to collaborate with others.”

Earlier in the meeting, Barresi challenged the board to accept her nomination of Brecheen to the steering committee that will oversee the writing of academic standards.

Board member Amy Ford, who is now heading up the process, recommended a list of steering committee members to the rest of the board at Thursday’s meeting. Barresi said she had submitted Brecheen’s name previously, but it had been “rejected.”

Her motion to add Brecheen to Ford’s list of steering committee failed because no other board member seconded the motion. The board then split with Barresi 6-1 to approve the membership of the committee.

Education Board Meeting Anything But Smooth

The Board of Education meeting was anything but smooth, as outgoing Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi continues to come under fire:

gopad2Paid for by the Oklahoma Republican Party. Not authorized​ by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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