Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paddack's Class Warfare Allegation Discredited

Susan Paddack is the latest statewide Democratic candidate to go on the attack today as she unveiled a new television commercial accusing Republican opponent Janet Barresi of class warfare.

The truthfulness of the commercial, like one for Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Kenneth Corn attacking Republican Todd Lamb, is being called into question. And those involved say that if anyone's guilty of class warfare, it is Paddack with her off-the-wall allegation in what may be a new low in political advertising this year.

The two seek to be elected superintendent of schools.

'If not for the actions of Janet Barresi,
our school with a minority population of 90%
could not exist in this state.' 

Barresi's campaign manager, Jennifer Carter, said the commercial shows Paddack acknowledges "she is losing her race to Janet Barresi when she launched a negative attack ad that has no basis in reality."

The ad claims the successful schools founded by Janet Barresi only admit children from “elite” families. That claim is clearly false, Carter said. Such actions are illegal and would violate the charter for the two schools.

“I am saddened that Susan Paddack has decided it is more important to spread falsehoods than to tell people where she stands on important issues like SQ 744,” said Carter.

“It’s important to note that the articles cited by Susan Paddack actually prove her claims to be false. In the December 2, 1997 Daily Oklahoman article cited by Paddack’s advertisement, it clearly states ‘Parents for a New Middle School’s plan calls for a random lottery system to choose students from six feeder core-knowledge elementary schools.’ Either Susan Paddack did not even read the back-up materials for her advertising, or she is intentionally trying to mislead voters,” Carter said.

“The truth is, the two schools Janet founded have given thousands of children opportunities they would not have experienced in traditional schools. And these children come from all backgrounds,” Carter continued. “Obviously, Janet has done a great job building these schools or there would not be so many children, and their parents, wanting to be a part of them. Because both schools are so successful and demand is high, when there are more applicants than seats, the schools are filled by a lottery process that treats all applicants equally. A family’s economic status is not considered one iota.”

At Harding Charter Prep, more than three-quarters of the students receive free or reduced lunches – hardly the elitism Paddack claims. A greater percentage of students at Harding receive federal assistance than is the case for the school where Paddack chose to send her own children (According to government figures, 60.8% of Ada public school students receive free or reduced lunches).

“I’m appalled that Susan Paddack would broadcast such inaccuracies,” stated Tracy McDaniel, Principal and Founder of KIPP Academy, the state’s leading inner-city charter school. “If not for the actions of Janet Barresi, our school with a minority population of 90% could not exist in this state. I am glad she stood up then to the charges of elitism, and I’m glad she is standing up now. It does not matter the background, parents just want what’s best for their children, and political gamesmanship like that of Susan Paddack is what stands in the way of real reform.”

“I guess I should be flattered to be called ‘elite’,” stated Kinzee Rylant, a graduate of Harding Charter Prep who is featured in Barresi’s latest advertisement. “Anyone who knows my twin-sister and I lived in the homes of generous friends through much of high school would be shocked that Susan Paddack now characterizes us as being from an elite family.”

“The fact that parents and children from all backgrounds are clamoring to attend schools started by Janet Barresi is a sign of success -- something Paddack fails to recognize. Janet Barresi wants to improve our traditional public schools so that interest in charter schools will wane. As Janet often says, her best day will be when the last charter school closes due to lack of interest because parents will prefer their local schools,” Carter concluded.

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