Janet Barresi was elected as the state's new school superintendent in November. Barresi, a dentist (really), made a lot of big promises during the campaign, but things haven't been going her way since she assumed office earlier this year.
There was, for example, that whole thing about some new Barresi staff members who—oops!—weren't actually state employees. Turns out, they were being paid by private funds.
If that seems odd to you, you aren't the only one who thought so. The state attorney general, a Republican like Barresi, recently issued an opinion confirming the problematic nature of Barresi's staff arrangement.
Then there was a scathing letter to the editor in the Tulsa World the other day, one that we suspect represents the view of a growing number of Oklahoma voters. "Wake up, Oklahoma," the writer began. "You have elected state superintendent…bent on the destruction of public education in Oklahoma."
Together with the right-wing branch of the Oklahoma legislature (the GOP), the writer notes that the new educational agenda in the Sooner state is "a segregated theocracy where only the most privileged will be able to get an education." Ouch!
We aren't sure what Barresi is up to or how her so-called reforms will work out, but we can testify to this: most Oklahomans like their local public schools and they aren't going to sit on their hands if and when those schools and their children lose educational opportunities to advance school privatization and wholesale budget-cutting.
At some point, the voters will realize that charter schools aren't a really a solution for most Oklahoma school children. When that happens, Barresi will have some explaining to do.