Monday, October 25, 2010

Enid Newspaper Endorses Janet Barresi

Editorial, Enid News & Eagle ~ At a time when there is more momentum, both nationally and statewide, for a new way of thinking in public education, Oklahoma’s state superintendent race actually is one of the most important races on the ballot.

Oklahoma has been in the news recently, mostly for some unflattering statistics about student funding, performance and readiness. There even is a state question on the ballot which, if passed, would be one of the worst policy measures to face the state superintendent’s office and the state Legislature.

For this reason, Janet Barresi, Republican, is the best choice to bring a new perspective and a reformer’s background to the state superintendent’s office. Her opponent is Susan Paddack, a Democratic senator who still will have her Senate seat if she loses this race.

Neither of the candidates has long-term classroom education credentials; however, both have experience in the classroom. Prior to her term in the Senate, Paddack was a classroom teacher, but most recently a leader of an education foundation. Barresi was a speech therapist in her early career, but she later became a dentist. She became involved in education a dozen years ago when she organized two successful charter schools, one which is recognized as one of the best high schools in the nation.

Barresi has been more up-front with the voters about her intentions for change and accountability. She forthrightly has opposed SQ 744, which ties Oklahoma’s funding for K-12 education to budget decisions made by six other states. Paddack has taken a pass on giving her position on the matter, which we see as pandering to some powerful forces in the state teachers organization.

Paddack’s political ads have tried to paint the impression that Barresi’s involvement in organizing charter schools actually has limited education options for students and catered to elite students. That kind of rhetoric simply is untrue because both the charter schools are publicly funded. These schools have shown what is possible when public education tries some non-traditional methods.

Barresi is solidly behind addressing the education problems we have in the state with true reform, new methods and a broader outreach to improve the overall education of our K-12 students.

Oklahomans know our students are capable of so much more, and our teachers deserve the resources and support to give our students the best education possible.

Our state’s best chance at actually gaining a foothold and reversing some of those unsavory statistics is to select an education leader who has the commitment and vision to make real changes to help students.

Barresi stands out as that leader, and she deserves the opportunity to be the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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