Janet Barresi, Oklahoma Department of Education superintendent, last week refused an invitation to meet with a group that represents approximately 35,000 of Oklahoma’s public educators. In doing so, she has called attention to what is becoming the worst kept secret in Oklahoma public education.
Simply stated, she is at war with those she is supposed to be leading, and it has absolutely nothing to do with who carries a union card and who doesn’t. It would come as a surprise to us to learn of any educator under her jurisdiction who supports her or her agenda, not just union leadership or its members.
That she did not want to address the group should not have come as a surprise to its leaders, nor should it to anyone involved in public education. The battle is raging and neither side is in the mood to sit down and negotiate a peace settlement. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a peaceful resolution ever taking place.
For her part, Barresi said she doesn’t want her views “Filtered through the lens of liberal union bosses,” according to Tulsa’s kjrh.com. Linda Hampton, Oklahoma Education Association president, responded by saying her group typically meets with those seeking the state superintendent’s position before deciding which candidates to recommend to its members, according to the website.
This may be true, but it is also clear the invitation was at best a courtesy. After all, this same group recently mimicked the State Department of Education’s school report cards by issuing a report card of its own in which it awarded Barresi an “F” for her performance to date.
Realistically, there is no peaceful resolution to this educational conflict. One side or the other must go. The sides are as follows: Janet Barresi versus the masses consisting of Oklahoma’s common education administrators and teachers.
Our vote is with the masses.