Barresi as Fallin’s Education Secretary — That OK With You?


Some people just won’t go away when they should.

Barresi has revealed a lot in her recent self-righteous comments that I included in the post Barresi Misses the Fact that She Is the “Power”.  Those comments show us that she believes she and her allies are the righteous few – misunderstood geniuses – fighting against a stupid, corrupt rabble of teachers unions and administrators who are just trying to defend their turf at all costs.

Of course, she never seems to believe that her opponents may be the ones who are right.

Certainly too many education “reformers” fall into this category. While talking a “disruptive innovation” game, they bring only disruption and not for the sake of innovation.

Instead, it’s about the money.

That leads us back to Barresi and Governor Fallin. Both have been bought and paid for by large financial interests, both known and unknown.

Don’t believe that their benefactors will let them get by with losing. These donors are wealthy individuals who expect something big in return for their big money.

So since Fallin’s tool, Barresi, came in third in the Republican Primary, does that mean that she is politically toxic? I don’t think that she is toxic enough yet.

With the defiant language that Barresi has been displaying after the election, it just doesn’t seem to me that she has been told to go away.

Instead, the corporate charter school lobbyist from out-of-state who was Fallin’s Education Secretary made a nice landing spot for Barresi by resigning today.

So what could happen next?

Fallin could announce Barresi’s appointment to the position as Education Secretary effective immediately while she still holds the Superintendent position, if that is legal. If it is not, then Fallin could just name her to that post effective starting in her new administration.

The advantages to Fallin and Barresi would be many:

  • Barresi could lay the groundwork with the Fallin-appointed board to follow her directives and not the newly-elected Superintendent when she/he is inaugurated.
  • Barresi could spend the next several months actively campaigning against both candidates, of course all for the sake of “the children”.
  • After the election, Barresi could seamlessly continue her campaign, already under way, against the new Superintendent.
  • Fallin could defend Barresi before and then after the appointment as the righteous champion for “reform” against “teachers unions” and administrators.
  • Both Fallin and Barresi could pass themselves off as the champions of children while actually being the champions of the investors in private education corporations who have donated to both and advised both of what to do and say.

Then, this could happen:

  • The Republican-dominated legislature could begin to strip away funding from the SDE with the agreement of the Board.
  • The legislature could also start transferring responsibilities to the Education Secretary claiming intransigence by the new Superintendent.

You might be thinking…That’s weird! Far-fetched! Can’t happen! No way!

It already has happened in another state: Look at Indiana.

Here’s what Diane Ravitch posted on her blog just last week about this very scenario playing out at the direction of Mike Pence, Republican Governor of Indiana:

Governor Mike Pence didn’t like the results of the election in 2012 when voters chose Glenda Ritz as State Superintendent of Education. For the past two years, he has whittled away the authority and funding of her office and transferred it to other agencies. He even created a new agency to assume control of education policy, turning her office into an empty shell. He mat think he is clever but in fact he is acting like a tinhorn dictator, defying the will of the voters.

So, it can happen. Is that Ok with you? It isn’t ok with me.

Perhaps Oklahoma’s Constitution can save us. Perhaps it can’t.

There is one thing for sure — This election in November will have some big consequences no matter who gets elected.

Let’s make sure that Governor Fallin and the Republican party know just how toxic it would be for them if they recycled Barresi into any other position in state government.

And, think long and hard about any urge that you may have to support Fallin for a second term or to resign yourself to her possibility of winning again.

Who becomes the next governor is not pre-determined, no matter how much the Republican Party wants you to believe that it is.

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