UPDATE: Fallin's Office Says Barresi Will Not Be Secretary Of Education

Jul 17, 2014

This post was updated at 12:36 CDT 

Gov. Mary Fallin’s office has offered its strongest rebuke yet to rumors that Superintendent Janet Barresi could be the state’s next secretary of education.

Joe Dorman, a Democrat challenging Fallin for the governor’s office in November,issued a statement Wednesday evening saying he heard Fallin is considering Barresi for the position. Barresi finished third in her Republican primary in June, and her term as superintendent ends at the end of the year.

Dorman’s statement came a day after the current secretary of education, Robert Sommers, announced he will resign on Aug. 15 to move back to Ohio due to family health concerns.

Fallin spokesmen Alex Weintz and Michael McNutt both said Tuesday and Wednesday that Barresi has not asked to be considered for the position, and has not been asked by the governor if she is interested.

Weintz went a step further Thursday.

“It’s a blanket no. She (Barresi) is not going to be chosen,” Weintz said. “She’s not going to be the next secretary of education. I think Joe Dorman made it up to heat up his campaign.”

Dorman said he made his statement after other people raised concerns.

He pointed to a blog published by Oklahoma education blogger Brett DickersonTuesday that addressed the issue and its potential ramifications for Oklahoma, and unnamed educators who raised the concern during this week's Vision 2020 summer education conference in Oklahoma City.

Dorman added the concerns are legitimate given that Barresi’s term ends in December, and that Fallin has an opening in her cabinet.

“They’re thick as thieves,” Dorman said. “Mary and Janet have worked together to promote A-F (school grades) and Common Core.”

Both Fallin and Barresi were strong supporters of Common Core academic standards in Oklahoma at the beginning of the year. Both back-tracked amid mounting political pressure to repeal the standards.

The Legislature ultimately passed a bill removing the standards. The bill was signed by Fallin, and the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the legislation is constitutional.

The campaign for Joy Hofmeister, who defeated Barresi in the primary, was quick to tie Barresi to Common Core, the state’s controversial A-F school and district grading system and her stance supporting third-grade reading retention policies.

Barresi finished last among three candidates with 21 percent of the vote. Hofmeister won with nearly 58 percent of the vote.

Dorman, considered a long shot against the incumbent Republican, has followed a similar tactic tying Fallin to Common Core and to Barresi.

You can read a Twitter exchange between Weintz and Dorman's campaign account below:

Below is the original post from 7:15 a.m. CDT

Gov. Mary Fallin's office is dismissing rumors she'll appoint State Superintendent Janet Barresi as secretary of education.

Barresi lost a June 24th primary challenge to fellow Republican Joy Hofmeister, and Secretary of Education and Workforce Development and CareerTech director Robert Sommers announced his resignation Tuesday.

State Rep. and gubernatorial nominee Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs) criticized Fallin's education policies Wednesday, and said he'd heard from multiple sources the governor was looking at Barresi to fill the vacancy.

“Sommers’ retirement gives Fallin a prime opportunity to reverse the June primary results,” Dorman said in a statement. “This means more one size fits all high stakes tests, more flawed A-F grading for schools, and continued overall lack of respect for public education. The voters last month soundly repudiated this agenda.”

But Fallin's spokesman Alex Weintz told the Tulsa World the governor never considered Barresi for the post, and accused Dorman of starting the rumor himself as a way to generate publicity for his campaign.

“We actually said that before he put out his press release, so all he would ever have needed to do was pick up the phone and call,” Weintz said.

Weintz said the Governor’s Office had no timeline for naming Sommers’ successor

“We would rather have a new secretary of education sooner rather than later, but we also want to have the right secretary of education,” Weintz said. “We want someone who has the ability to bring everyone to the table — teachers, administrators and parents — and someone who is committed to high academic standards and classroom rigor.”

KGOU relies on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners to further its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. To contribute to our efforts, make your donation online, or contact our Membership department.