Below is the transcript from State Supt. Barresi's weekly radio message from Sept. 30, 2011. The audio file is attached below.
Hello and welcome to my regular video message.
I’m Janet Barresi, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction.
On Monday, September 26, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a panel discussion as part of a national summit called “Education Nation” held in New York.
The summit brought together governors, school leaders, teachers and education reformers for a two-day discussion about educating our kids and preparing them for the knowledge economy of the 21st century.
I was asked to be a part of a discussion on the power of parent advocacy, and I shared a strong message of parental involvement. I talked about the historic reforms we’ve passed right here in Oklahoma and are now implementing here in our state.
As you know, many of these reforms include our 3rd grade graduation requirement ensuring students can read on grade level before advancing to the 4th grade … Our ‘A’ thru ‘F’ report card for schools to ensure accountability…. Our Opportunity Scholarship Act that gives low-income parents and those in failing schools more choice.
I shared my personal experience -- about how I went from being a concerned parent, to establishing the state’s first charter school, to fighting for reforms and eventually serving as the state’s first new superintendent in 20 years.
I told the nationwide audience watching the event that parents should put a premium on how their children are performing in schools. Parents should arm themselves with facts, ask questions, and hold school officials accountable … And parents should never give up, because it’s their child.
The panel discussion was an energizing reminder of the need for parent empowerment and parent advocacy.
That’s why I’m dismayed by the recent lawsuit filed against parents by two school districts in Tulsa County. These districts are suing the parents of special needs children over our state’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Law. This law was a bipartisan effort and was signed into law by former Gov. Henry. The law allows these parents to place their children in schools that will meet the needs of each of their own children.
These parents have enough stress in their lives without having to contend with a groundless lawsuit.
And school districts all over Oklahoma should be encouraging parental involvement … not suing parents.
School leaders should be committed to expanding choice for parents, not trying to thwart reforms.
I’ve already established a new office of parent and a new office of parent and community engagement.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be examining additional ways to aid parent empowerment, advocacy and involvement.
Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.