Weekly Radio Message - State Superintendent Janet Barresi

Below is the transcript from State Supt. Barresi's weekly radio message from May 20, 2011. The audio file is attached below.


Hello and welcome to my weekly video message.

I’m Janet Barresi, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction.

This week, I’d like to start with this year’s historic legislative session. I believe that in future years we will look back on 2011 as being the year when Oklahoma finally turned the corner on true education reform.

As part of the 3R agenda to rethink, restructure and reform Oklahoma’s education system, we have passed the most significant slate of legislative reforms Oklahoma has seen in years.

The leadership and courage demonstrated by Governor Mary Fallin, House Speaker Kris Steele, and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman in the face of stubborn opposition is admirable. Many other lawmakers have also played key roles, and they have my sincere thanks.

We’ve drawn a line in the sand to end social promotion after the third grade, so that children are able to read proficiently when they enter the fourth grade.

We’ve established a new easy-to-understand “a thru f” report card for schools. As a parent or as a citizen, you will be able to quickly find out how a school is performing. No longer will you have to struggle with obscure numbers to understand student performance. With this clear-cut accountability system, schools will be spurred to improve and communities will be prompted to help them.

We’ve also taken critical first steps in bringing real choice to parents. Instead of being stuck in failing schools or having choice limited by a zip code, low-income families will now have the option of seeking opportunity scholarships funded through donations from businesses and individuals. Rural schools will also benefit from this program.

Now, the hard work really begins.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been given the authority to act as chief executive of the state department of education, and I’m taking action on promises made to Oklahomans to upgrade and update this agency for the 21st century.

Oklahoma’s parents have made it clear they expect change and reform. Oklahoma’s citizens have made it clear they expect a return on the investment of their tax dollars. They want to see results.

That’s why we passed a slate of reforms in the state legislature and that’s why I’m working to restructure an outdated way of doing things.

You may also recall that earlier this year I joined a group of like-minded education reformers called Chiefs for Change. We’re a group of 10 state education chiefs from around the country.

This week, Chiefs for Change released a roadmap for reauthorization of the federal elementary and secondary education act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind.

This is an opportunity for the federal government to give states more flexibility. And it’s an opportunity for Washington to show it is serious about making student achievement a national priority.

The new guiding principles released by Chiefs for Change define a student-focused system of accountability, transparency, with excellent teachers and with educational choice.

The new guiding principles released this week by Chiefs for Change are about what’s in the best interests of children, not what makes adults feel better about themselves.

We have an opportunity to take the bold reforms passed in states like Oklahoma and extend those same ideas at the national level.

That’s why Chiefs for Change is making its voice heard.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.

Last updated on December 14, 2011