Outgoing Oklahoma state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi reflects on challenges of leading Education Department
by Tim Willert
Janet Barresi is proud of the work she’s done to improve public school education in Oklahoma. She only wishes she had four more years to build on reforms she implemented as the state’s superintendent of public instruction.
It’s been a rocky road for Barresi, 62, a dentist and charter school founder whose last day on the job is Jan. 12. She ran for a second term — despite being told she had no shot at beating successor Joy Hofmeister in the June Republican primary — because she wanted to continue serving the children of Oklahoma.
“If this was an appointed position, I would have tried to get appointed,” she said in a recent interview. “The only reason I ran is not to be a politician, to get a powerful position in this state, it was so I could implement these reforms and help kids.”
Barresi said she has worked tirelessly to improve the Reading Sufficiency Act and the A-F Report Card for schools, two controversial reforms that contributed to her ouster.