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  • Roger Colby

The Truth About Janet Barresi

Next Tuesday Oklahoma Republicans will go to the polls to vote in a primary election.  On the ballot is current state superintendent Janet Barresi, who, as her LinkedIn account shows, has exactly a year and 10 months experience in public schools as a speech pathologist.  She is the only candidate on the ballot who has little to no education experience in public education.

Janet Barresi needs to be defeated.

As I posted on this blog before, teachers and administrators all over the state rallied at the capitol on April 30th of this year in protest of the policies that Barresi has implemented and mis-handled, and several teachers and administrators have changed their affiliation to Republican just so that we can do our best to unseat her.

Here are the facts:

  1. Special Ed Disenfranchisement – Barresi did away with modified state testing for students on IEP’s (like my son), and therefore students who are required by federal law to take modified tests were given unmodified tests as mandated by her office.  Our governor, Mary Fallin, is also to blame in that she has been instrumental in helping Barresi break federal law.  IEPs are federal and trump state law, and not modifying the tests of these students is therefore a crime.  This has been a direct attack on school scores in that these special ed students’ tests were factored in to regular ed teacher’s overall pass rates even if we never taught these students to begin with.  It is designed to drive down pass rates of state tests.

  2. Testing Committees – The State Department of Ed. invited teachers to sit on committees to design state education standards, let these teachers contribute, but then those on the committee without any education background were given the final say about any decisions, and these teacher’s suggestions were completely ignored.  Teachers on these committees were asked to be a part so that the SDE could say that they had teacher input.  This is a lie.

  3. Paying for Kelly’s Campaign – Because so many are running against Barresi in the primary, she is using a dirty tactic with the millions at her disposal to cause people to throw votes away.  Brian Kelly is running against her, but he has attended no meetings, has not gone on any campaign, and has contributed absolutely no money to his campaign, yet campaign signs are popping up everywhere with Kelly’s name on them.  As this article shows, Kelly is being funded by Barresi’s campaign in order to drive voters away from the other candidates.

  4. The Jeb Bush Connection – Jeb Bush implemented the A-F grading scale in Florida where it has now been in place since 1999, yet schools continue to rate worse and worse on the scale in Florida even though teachers are working harder than ever.  Each year the Florida SDE tweaks the guidelines, making it more and more unfair to schools and sending a mixed message to parents.  People in Florida (not just teachers and administrators) are fed up with A-F.  Even our own university professionals have said it is meaningless.  The one politician who has darkened Barresi’s door (some 18 times since she took office) is Jeb Bush.  She is one of his “Chiefs for Change“, who believe that test scores should drive whether or not a school is successful, a policy proven to be a complete failure.

  5. Testing Company Pariah – Since Barresi has taken office, we have been through a testing company a year.  Each year, the testing companies gain a five year contract (renewable each year) and then Barresi fires them after a year because they are not testing students to her  specifications.  However, McGraw-Hill, the testing company for the 2013-2014 school year were given a rubric for the ELA writing tests that was skewed to grade low.  Two schools near my home are joining the fight against Barresi.  Norman schools in central Oklahoma are sending all of their tests back to be re-graded because several students who took AP classes failed the test while students on IEPs passed it.  Moore schools sent a letter to the SDE asking them to explain why their writing test rubric was so skewed to failure and rather than take blame, the SDE sent a detailed letter explaining their rubric and why it was valid.  If you don’t believe me, then look at this article. Because of these testing company firings, testing companies now have considered Oklahoma toxic.

  6. And There’s More…Oklahoma Education Truths is a blog that started back in April 2012 and has been very good about pointing out all of the horrible crimes perpetrated by this failing state superintendent.  Go over to the blog and look at article after article proving that Barresi needs to go.  Another good place to see where the Oklahoma legislature, the governor (Mary Fallin) and Janet Barresi have failed is in Education Week, which posts articles about our state on a regular basis.

Please be informed.  If we don’t do something about this inept superintendent, we can count on more and more oppressive policies to flow out of her office, policies that have been proven to fail in other states, policies that disenfranchise our students, belittle our teachers and administrators, and send a false message about what our schools are doing to constituents everywhere.

Check out my latest post where I shine a spotlight on each candidate’s actual public school experience.

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