The Norman Transcript

November 8, 2013

Teachers’ group gives state superintendent an ‘F’

By Sean Murphy
The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — A 35,000-member Oklahoma teachers’ group delivered State Superintendent Janet Barresi an “F” grade on Friday for her role as the state’s top education official.

Just days after Barresi’s office released the newly revised A-F letter grades for Oklahoma schools, Oklahoma Education Association President Linda Hampton gave the first-term Republican a failing grade of her own and said the association has no confidence in the state’s new grading process.

“The A-F grades released Wednesday simply labeled students, labeled teachers and labeled schools,” Hampton said. “The results have been released and rereleased so many times that we have no confidence they are accurate.

“All too often Superintendent Barresi claims to be raising the bar or increasing rigor, when in fact she is simply deeming more students and schools as failures.”

Barresi dismissed the criticism from the OEA as part of the “education establishment” that is fighting to maintain the status quo.

“I think since the teacher’s union is complaining, that means I’m doing my job,” Barresi said.

Barresi acknowledged the launch of the new grading system hasn’t been smooth, but accused some of her critics for engaging in “political gamesmanship.” She declined to say what letter grade she thought she and her administration deserve.

Pushed by Republicans, such as Barresi who was swept into office in 2010, the grading system was supposed to foster more parental involvement by making it easier for parents to see how their child’s school was performing. But the rollout over the last two years has been marred by delays and fierce resistance from some superintendents to the formula that’s used to determine the grades.

A recent change by lawmakers that showed in the grades released this week dramatically increased the number of failing schools.

The Department of Education also said letter grades for individual districts won’t be ready until next week after initially saying they would be released Wednesday.

Barresi is up for election in 2014 and already has drawn a Republican primary challenge from Joy Hofmeister, of Tulsa, an appointee of Gov. Mary Fallin to the State Board of Education who stepped down to run against Barresi.

The most recent campaign filing reports show Hofmeister raised $34,000 more than Barresi during the most recent quarter and finished with $200,000 in cash on hand, compared to about $150,000 for Barresi.

Several Democrats also are seeking the post.

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