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.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

17 thoughts on “The Truth About Janet Barresi

  1. I was happy to see Barresi beaten in the primaries, but I was somewhat bemused by the mass of apparently wrongheaded actions she has taken, which appear to be counterproductive. I generally assume that people have positive motives and that when they do act in apparently contradiction to what should be positive motives, that there are other motivations that they believe are positive which are creating the apparent contradiction. It seems clear that no sane person would willfully detract from the education of our youth. So, what is it that compels her action? People here may know her far better than I, so they may know the real reason. I’ll take a stab at guessing, but please correct me.

    1) Anti-union. Believing (in my view mistakenly) that unions protect poor teachers, lead to overpayment,of workers, inefficiency etc.

    2) Pro-profit. Get rid of public schools… the corporate model is best. For profit education puts the financial burden where it should be, on the parents rather than the public at large and “hooray capitalism”… competitive free-enterprise for profit always gives better results. Exposing the problems of public schools through draconian testing will help hasten their demise and bring in american free enterprise!

    Or possibly a combination of these, since they are not mutually exclusive… and of course holding either or both of these with the view that they will actually improve education (which I heartily disagree with…).

    Are these anywhere near correct? Are there others? Why does she act this way? Will any other Republican actually be any better?

  2. I AM Brian Kelly. You are incorrect. Janet Barresi loathes me, but does view me as a threat to her re-election.

    I HAVE attended every event that I have been INVITED to. Yesterday, I drove to Tulsa to debate Superintendent Barresi and Mrs Hoffmeister hosted by Tulsa’s Channel 8. I was not allowed to participate, “because the rules of the debate were already agreed upon by my opponents”???! BOGUS. Consequently I missed an event hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Grady County Republican Round Up.

    I have three Oklahoma State Department of Education administrative credentials including Superintendent, Secondary Principsl, Elementary Principal, and 14 instructional endorsements. I have a graduate degree in Education Administration, Policy and Planning from the University if Oklahoma.

    If you want Comprehensive Special Education Programming, you better back me. I have a 54 year old Autistic brother, so when I say that Special Ed is important to me, you can take that to the bank.

    I ran four years ago and received nearly 90,000 votes. I thought I was the right person for the job then; I know I am the right person now!

    1. Brian, if you really want to become the State Supt. of Public Instruction, you really need to spell check all corespondence!

  3. Word.
    June 24th, 2014 is the Oklahoma State Primary election.
    Aug 26th, 2014 is the Oklahoma State Runoff election.
    Nov 4th, 2014 is the Oklahoma State wide General election.
    Go to to easily register to vote.
    Go Vote.

  4. Julie is right. I tracked the special ed information down after all but two of my many special ed students failed or scored limited knowledge on the reading test. It came from Washington at the behest of special ed lobbyists. I think that may actually get challenged down the road because of the high failure rate.
    Since the test company did not set their cut rates until after test results were in each year, the test results can be modified however they want to interpret them. It was against the interests of the test companies for scores to improve, because they sell millions of dollars worth of test prep services too. I haven’t heard many people talk about this, but I investigated it after learning they adjust the raw scores to “norms” they have after each test. The cut rates for the grades on either side of mine were several points lower. Math cut scores were much, much lower because students did not do as well. You are penalized for doing too well!

  5. You wrote: “As this article shows, Kelly is being funded by Barresi’s campaign in order to drive voters away from the other candidates.”

    Did you intend to link to an article?

    1. The article is now linked. Sometimes I forget one…lol. However, this article DOES show that Kelly has taken in absolutely $0 for his campaign, yet he has signs up everywhere. He has also not attended any meetings and filed for his candidacy one hour before the deadline.

      1. Thanks. I was interested in reading more about that topic as I just listened to him being interviewed on “Mitchell in the Morning” today on 1520 KOKC.

  6. Barresi is not the only candidate with dismal public school experience. Joy Hofmeister only taught 2 years, and that was 25 years ago! Joy has no public school administrative experience and spent the last 20+ years running a for-profit testing/tutoring company.

    At least Brian Kelly has over a decade of public school experience, INCLUDING administrative experience.

    Personally, I don’t think any of those three are qualified.

    John Cox for me!

  7. If every single teacher in this great state will get up off their seats and GO VOTE, we will have a real chance to see some positive change in Oklahoma Education.

  8. She’s trying to buy her way back in. She just loaned herself $910,000 for her campaign it’s time for her to go back to pulling teeth.

  9. Although I agree that Baressi has got to go, it is important that people keep their facts straight. Baressi and Falin had nothing to do with eliminating the modified testing for special eduction students- that was something put in to place and taken away by the United States Department of Education. It was taken away because it was being abused.

    1. But requiring an autistic student to take an unmodified state test and then pinning that failed score to a teachers evaluation who has never taught them is criminal.

      1. Oklahoma still has an alternative assessment for more severly disabled students. They just have to meet certain criteria to be able to take those assessments. So as long as that student with autism meets the alternative criteria they are not forced to take the regular test. However, if they do not fit the criteria then yes unfortunately federal law says they must take the regular assessment.

      2. Pinning any student score to a teacher’s evaluation is criminal.

        But on the subject of assessments, accommodations are allowed, which when used properly can help students with various disabilities access the assessment.

        And yes, there is at the alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities, but there are criteria that must be met for a student to be eligible, notably deficits in both cognitive and adaptive functioning. Here is Oklahoma’s if you are interested and not familiar with it (and I realize the student with autism you refer to may well be beyond the level the portfolio assesses).

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