Educators Protest Barresi’s State of Education Address
2,500 education officials are taking part in the second day of the Oklahoma education convention known as Innovation 2011 at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
The convention kicked off yesterday with newly elected Superintendent Janet Barresi giving her first State of Education address.
Barresi has been under fire recently because of cuts made to the agency.
State Superintendent Janet Barresi admits she had to make some tough choices when the legislature cut nearly $100 million from her budget.
But, she also tells attendees of Innovation 2011 that she is committed to the three “R”s of Rethink, Restructure and Reform which she unveiled a few months ago.
One of her agenda items for the future of education is a need to push more science, technology, engineering and math in the classroom.
“It is only through preparing our students with proficiencies in areas like statistics, data analysis, technical reading and so on, that they’ll actually be ready to compete for jobs in the new knowledge economy of the 21st century.”
Barresi is considering the past legislative session a success with the passage of bills to end Trial de Novo, create an “A” through “F” grading scale for schools, and provide tax breaks for private school scholarships.
Another bill pushed by Barresi and Governor Fallin ends the social promotion of third graders who can’t read.
“It’s about ensuring that those students are identified early in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, so by the time they reach the third grade they’re not frustrated, they’re not struggling.”
Outside the Cox Convention Center, about 35 students, teachers and parents from all over Oklahoma are protesting the work Barresi has done in the past six months since taking office.
They hold signs saying things like “Save Our Schools” and “Barresi is Wrong”.
National Board Certified Teacher Elise Robillard says the group is getting the attention of the public because they need to know what’s happening in education.
“We want Oklahomans to raise their awareness of this we need them to be reading the articles to be asking the questions, to go and talk with their local principal or superintendent or school board member and find out just how bad it really is.”
Robillard criticizes Barresi for cutting funding for nationally board certified teachers, advanced placement and great expectations.
She also says the social promotion bill is bad policy when it comes to promoting reading.
“So now third grade reading test: high stakes. And then she turns around and she cuts the budget for literacy first which is about literacy in the elementary grades. One can only conclude she’s either grossly incompetent or dangerously threatening to education.”
Barresi did reach out to her opponents during her State of Education address saying she pledges to try and find common ground to overcome the challenges the agency could be facing for many years.
The education conference comes to an end in downtown Oklahoma City this afternoon at 1:30.