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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Barresi Off To Rocky Start

In her first meeting with the Board of Education, State Superintendent of Public Instruction faced her first real difficulty since her landslide victory and immediately, Governor Mary Fallin spoke out on her behalf.   The Oklahoman is reporting that Barresi was denied the first of her three hires.
“You were not elected dictator,” board member Tim Gilpin said to Barresi about her first recommended hire.

Barresi placed her campaign manager Jennifer Carter on the agenda for the position of chief of staff. Gilpin questioned Carter's qualifications for the position.
Carter's law degree, according to Barresi, qualified her for the $96,000/year position as chief of staff.  More than likely, Carter dealt with much more difficulty during the campaign than she would as COS.  The position of COS has no real qualification requirements, so this could very easily be seen as a response to other statewide elected officials and their questionable hires.  More likely, however, this is a slap in the face to Barresi who has vowed to change how the Education Department has been run in the past.

I mean, really.  Think about it:  Barresi is a dentist, not an educator, and she won statewide support because the citizens of Oklahoma are tired of how ineffectual public education has become.

Governor Fallin issued the following statement:
“The public indicated their support of Superintendent Barresi when they elected her to office. She should clearly be able to appoint her own senior staff, especially given that all of her intended hires are well-qualified. My goal as governor, and Janet Barresi's goal as superintendent, is to improve our schools and help our children. I would hope the Board of Education would join us in that mission rather than engage in the kind of obstructionism and cheap political theatrics they pursued today.”
So, at present, Superintendent Barresi has no COS.  And the story does not tell us what the other two positions were that she was denied.

Read the whole story here.

UPDATE:  Read the McCarville Report and see how even Damon Gardenhire's position has been called into question.