OKLAHOMA CITY -- Voters have chosen Republican Janet Barresi as Oklahoma's Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Barresi defeated Democrat Susan Paddack and Independent Richard Cooper. She replaces State Superintendent Sandy Garrett, who has held the position since 1991.
Barresi earned her bachelor's degree in education, and master's degree in speech and language disorders from the University of Oklahoma. She worked in the Harrah and Norman public school system as a speech pathologist before returning to OU to earn a degree in dentistry.
In 1996, Barresi retired from her career as a dentist to establish Independence Charter School, a charter school in the Oklahoma City Public School District. Barresi said she was concerned that Oklahoma students were not being well prepared for the job demands of the 21st century.
"We've got to focus on increasing academic standards," Barresi said. "We have to improve testing, and give teachers the autonomy to really bring great curricula within the classroom."
"I want to bring my experience in creating schools, involving parents, and using data-proven practices to improve our state's education system. We must realize that we can do better. We can accomplish more. We simply must refocus our goals."
Barresi staunchly opposed State Question 744, the measure to increase funding for Oklahoma schools. She called the measure fiscally irresponsible and said it would require big cuts to vital agencies. She also cited a lack of accountability in how the money would be spent once it was given to schools. Barresi vowed to use current funding to ensure children are getting the education they deserve.
"I am committed to maximizing every dollar going to our schools to ensure that every Oklahoma child gets the best education possible. I will work to ensure that we have a well-educated workforce that can think critically so that we can attract and retain the job providers we all need and want."