Weekly Radio Message - State Superintendent Janet Barresi

Below is the transcript from State Supt. Barresi's weekly radio message from April 8, 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.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been sharing details about the 3R agenda, that I launched in March,  to rethink, restructure and reform our state’s education system.

This week I’d like to focus on the third ‘R’ – reform.

Earlier this week, I was invited to testify before Congress in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. House Committee on Education and the workforce held a hearing on how the federal government can be more flexible so that it encourages innovation at the state and local level.

This was the perfect opportunity for me to highlight the reform portion of the 3R agenda, and to talk about the great progress made by Governor Fallin and state legislative leaders.

Our reform efforts in Oklahoma are attracting national attention as we take the lead. The center of gravity for reform has moved to the state level, and Washington must move in a different direction that embraces this innovation rather than discouraging it.

We’re making headway at the state level, but we can do even more if federal policymakers are willing to cut the strings of federal bureaucracy, allow more local control and encourage a wider array of choice options for parents.

So what did I share with Congress this week?

I focused on three areas of reform – ending social promotion, implementing a report card system for schools and passing tuition tax credits to give parents more choice.

We’re now at the halfway point in the state legislative session and it appears we will pass a bill to end social promotion after the third grade so that students aren’t entering their most critical learning years unprepared. After the third grade, students stop learning to read and they start reading to learn, so it is crucial that we must pass this reform.

We’re also on track to implementing a grading system for schools and school districts – an annual a-through-f report card just like students receive – so that parents won’t have to dig through obscure or confusing numbers.

And I’m urging passage of legislation enacting tuition tax credits in Oklahoma to offer parents more and better choices. Under the legislation, businesses and individuals could qualify for tax credits for contributions to eligible scholarship-granting organizations, and those organizations, in turn, would offer scholarships to qualifying families in need.

There are many other reforms we’ll be seeking over the next few years and the three I’ve highlighted are just the beginning. Passage of these key items will begin the process of transforming Oklahoma’s education system for the better.
As always, you can find more information about the 3R agenda on our homepage, including additional videos, a policy booklet and information about my testimony before Congress this week.

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

Last updated on December 14, 2011