Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Barresi marks National School Choice Week

"State Superintendent Janet Barresi is honoring National School Choice Week, a celebration this week focusing on the need for effective educational options for every child," according to a news release from her office.
"One of my top priorities in my first year in office will be to encourage innovation and choice in Oklahoma’s education system by working with Governor Fallin and members of our Legislature on policies like tuition tax credits," said Barresi. "Choice encourages competition, and competition spurs excellence. We need to do a better job of providing parents with choices that will help their children, rather than attempting to force every family into a one-size-fits-all approach."

Barresi said decisions by some Tulsa-area school administrators to sue over special needs children tuition scholarships placed a spotlight on the need for more choice in Oklahoma.

"We've seen some local school districts make questionable decisions in defiance of state law, trying to force litigation and cost taxpayers more money," said Barresi. "We need to explore every option we can to empower parents, instead of thwarting their ability to do what's in the best interests of their children."

As part of events marking the national week, Superintendent Barresi will participate in a panel discussion Tuesday evening at a special showing of the new documentary, "The Cartel" at Oklahoma Christian University. "The Cartel" focuses on New Jersey's failing education system -- a state where per-pupil spending ranks among the highest in the nation but students graduate with shockingly low proficiency in reading and math.

"A growing number of documentaries over the past year have exposed the failures in America’s education system, even as education spending has increased by more than 200 percent over the past quarter century," said Barresi. "Far from being immune to these problems, Oklahoma faces a crisis. Studies show we are among the worst states in producing top-achieving math and science students."

Barresi joins other National School Choice Week participants across the country including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, commentator Juan Williams, Grammy-award winning singer Jon Secada, Black Alliance for Educational Options Chairman Kevin P. Chavous, and former New York Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz.

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