Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman announced the “first phase” of his education program on Thursday.
In doing so, Dorman signaled his intention to tie state Superintendent Janet Barresi around incumbent Gov. Mary Fallin’s neck.
“The ‘Fal-esi’ (which Dorman pronounced ‘fallacy’) plan — the Fallin-Barresi education plan — must be turned around,” Dorman said during a press conference in Tulsa.
Barresi’s aggressive approach to education reform stirred animosity across the political spectrum and put her frequently at odds with the Legislature. Her bid for re-election ended last month with a third-place finish in a Republican primary won outright by former state school board member Joy Hofmeister of Tulsa.
Barresi and Fallin have sought to take the public education system in generally the same direction but have disagreed at times on policy and implementation.
“Much has been said about Mary Fallin and Janet Barresi,” Dorman said. “The two of them combined have initiated changes that have caused what’s happened to our education system.
“Through their radical agenda on education, they have pursued many programs that have harmed the classrooms.”
Dorman specifically cited lack of financial support, high-stakes testing and lack of input from education professionals as shortcomings of the current regime.
Dorman’s proposal, called Classrooms First, would dedicate the state franchise tax — estimated at $35 million — to classroom costs and limit per-pupil state funding cuts.
Dorman said the money from the franchise tax, which now goes into the general fund, could not be spent on administrative salaries or for non-educational purposes.
A term-limited state representative from Rush Springs, Dorman previously proposed using the franchise tax to finance school storm shelters. He still supports the idea of state-financed shelters but said the proposal now being circulated as an initiative petition does not specify a revenue source.
Under Dorman’s Classrooms First proposal, the franchise tax would be distributed as part of the so-called midterm adjustment. Local districts would have some latitude on how the money is spent.
Dorman also emphasized that the winner of November’s gubernatorial election will oversee the adoption of new education standards.
“The governor has the ability to hire and fire the state board of education,” he said. “The governor will determine the education standards. We have to have input from education professionals, parents and other parties invested in education.”
Dr. Freda Deskin sent this email today to the news media:
We respectfully request as you continue to report accurate and fair information regarding the election of the new State Superintendent of Public Instruction, that you allow Democrat candidate Freda Deskin the same respect as her opponent John Cox in their short descriptors.
Recently in various articles, Freda Deskin has been referred to as “Charter school founder” and “Dean” whereas John Cox has been referred to as a “lifelong educator.” Freda Deskin is beginning her 44th year dedicated and working in Oklahoma schools as John Cox is beginning his 29th.
Please know members of the Deskin campaign are thoroughly appreciative of Oklahoma’s media sources and grateful for your understanding. In addition, as the Aug. 26 primary run-off approaches there will be many events you may be interested in attending. The Deskin campaign will keep you notified of events for your consideration.
Republican Joy Hofmeister today called for a federal investigation into incumbent State Superintendent Janet Barresi.
Hofmeister said today she will provide emails showing that Barresi had full knowledge of the privacy violations of Department of Education student records and refused to do anything about it until after intense pressure from state board members, the media, and legislators.
Hofmeister also charged that Barresi’s staff admits that her own campaign benefited from her use of private student records. This includes the records of special education students receiving the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship through the State Department of Education.
Parents of special needs students recently revealed that they learned their child’s name had been made public because Barresi’s campaign reached out to them.
“Janet Barresi has repeatedly violated the privacy of Oklahoma school children. She has posted their private academic records and personal information on the State Department of Education website. There are multiple state and federal laws prohibiting this sort of behavior,” Hofmeister said.
“These are egregious failures of which Janet Barresi is desperate to conceal while she continues to use her personal fortune to smear my name,” Hofmeister said.
“Barresi’s conduct is a pattern of abuse that I witnessed during my appointment to the State Board of Education and is one of the reasons why I am compelled to run against her. Superintendent Barresi’s gross violations of state and federal privacy laws need to be fully investigated.”
“This is yet another example of Joy Hofmeister trying to use taxpayer resources for her own campaign advancement. There is nothing new in these allegations — she has been trying to trump these issues for months. It is not surprising that Hofmeister is making wild allegations given that she has been identified as the focus of an inquiry by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater regarding illegal campaign activity. At the same time, previously secret e-mails show that the Hofmestier campaign illegally used school resources for fundraising efforts. I believe Oklahoma voters will see through Hofmeister’s transparent effort to divert attention from her very real legal problems, which could include criminal prosecution.
“The Department acknowledged that staff made mistakes, as will happen when 284 employees are working to implement needed education reforms, but that has been rectified and handled with transparency as Ms. Hofmeister’s own release proves. Hofmeister claims this is why she quit the state board and is running for office. If that were true, why did she wait until five days before an election to call for the investigation? Certainly, to now run to ask for the help of Barack Obama appointees shows her desperation and proves this is a campaign stunt with absolutely no merit.”
When she appears before Republican groups, state superintendent candidate Joy Hofmeister talks like a conservative, but when she communicates with her liberal supporters, she tells a different story. A review of Hofmeister’s public and previously private statements demonstrate she has repeatedly contradicted herself throughout the campaign.
“The true test of a person’s character is how she behaves when she thinks no one is watching,” said Robyn Matthews, manager for the re-election campaign of incumbent State Superintendent Janet Barresi, a conservative Republican. “When Joy Hofmeister thinks no one is paying attention, she endorses liberal policies that directly contradict her campaign rhetoric.”
In a recent ad and in campaign speeches, Hofmeister claims to oppose Common Core academic standards. Yet in public appearances on April 15 and May 27 this year, Hofmeister called for mandating use of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills in Oklahoma. Those tests are fully aligned with the Common Core.
On its web site, the Iowa Tests publisher expressly declares, “The Iowa Assessments from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Riverside, the assessment division of HMH, measures student achievement and growth across a continuum of next generation learning standards, including Common Core.”
Research by the Washington Policy Center also notes, “The Director of the Iowa Testing Programs reports that the new Iowa Test of Basic Skills is aligned with the national Common Core learning standards.” The Center recommended the Iowa tests as the “most cost-effective way” to meet Common Core mandates.
(Hofmeister’s endorsement of the Common Core-aligned Iowa tests can be viewed at http://youtu.be/bOhT7gU46mE. Information on the Iowa tests can be viewed at http://www.riversidepublishing.com/products/ia/index.html and https://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/notes/respected-iowa-test-basic-skills-most-cost-effective-way-meet-national-testing-re.)
At a May 10, 2014 candidate forum, Hofmeister told Republican voters she supports tax cuts. But in a July 17, 2012 email to Jenks Superintendent Kirby Lehman, Hofmeister expressed strong opposition to tax cuts.
In that exchange, Lehman declares, “Elimination of the personal income tax in Oklahoma will see the ruination of this state.” Hofmeister responds: “I agree 100%!”
That email can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.janetbarresi.com/#!hofmeister-against-income-tax-cuts/cpar.
Hofmeister has also endorsed efforts to gut a scholarship program for students with special needs. When one of her supporters suggested amending state law “to stop the private schools from signing up to accept the Henry scholarship students,” Hofmeister quickly endorsed the idea, responding, “Great idea!” Once that March 22, 2013 email was released to the public, Hofmeister switched gears and suddenly declared she supports the scholarship program.
That email and others like it can be viewed in their entirety at http://www.janetbarresi.com/#!lnh-emails/c1fym.
“To believe everything Joy Hofmeister says, you have believe that she opposes Common Core standards but also wants to require all Oklahoma children to take Common Core tests, that she supports tax cuts she believes will ruin the state, and that she is supporting a scholarship program for children with special needs by endorsing efforts to gut the program,” Matthews said. “But there’s a simpler explanation: Joy Hofmeister is a liberal who only pretends to be conservative in front of Republican voters. She’s just another politician we can’t trust.”
The ad can be seen at http://youtu.be/uZIVjENB03k and the video endorsement of Common Core-aligned tests and the May 10, 2014 candidate forum response to income tax cuts can be found at http://youtu.be/bOhT7gU46mE.