Weekly Radio Message - State Superintendent Janet Barresi

Below is the transcript from State Supt. Barresi's weekly radio message from April 29, 2011. The audio file is attached below.


Hello and welcome to my weekly video message.

I’m Janet Barresi, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction.

This week, a key reform in our 3R agenda to rethink, restructure and reform Oklahoma’s education system moved one step closer to the governor’s desk.

On Tuesday the Oklahoma House passed Senate Bill 969, the opportunity scholarship act. The bill is now headed to the State Senate for final passage before going to Governor Fallin’s desk.

This is a landmark reform to offer Oklahoma’s parents more and better choices for their children’s education.

It helps under-privileged children in low-income families out of desperate circumstances and it will also benefit new programs in our public schools which is why the reform has garnered bipartisan support.

The bill is authored by State Senator Clark Jolley and State Representative Lee Denney.

If it becomes law it will offer a state income tax credit of 50 percent to businesses and individuals contributing to scholarship-granting organizations. Those organizations, in turn, would provide tuition scholarships to children in low-income families or for parents of children in failing schools. The funds that come from the tax credits would also be used to finance grants for new programs in rural public schools.

I thought State Representative Rebecca Hamilton expressed it well when she talked about some of the desperate circumstances she has seen in schools in her district.

“I represent children who go to schools that are essentially factories. Those schools not only do not provide them with the kind of education they need to have a future, they destroy their souls while they’re at it.”

Senate Bill 969 is a win-win reform giving low-income families better options and helping rural schools.

This week, I also wanted to remind all Oklahomans that coming up the first week of may we will mark National Teacher Appreciation Week. It's sponsored by the national PTA, and it's been going since 1984. The week of May second through the sixth offers all of us the chance to honor educators.

Teachers change lives. I was reminded of this recently when I read about how Nobel laureate and physicist Steven Chu, who is now the u-s energy secretary, became a scientist.

Chu recalls that it was his high school physics teacher who influenced him.

Teaching is important work and it is hard work.

Educators need our support.

A recent survey found that 88 percent of Americans said a teacher had been a significant and positive impact on their lives.

I hope you’ll join me in showing teachers how much we appreciate them. If you’re a parent take time to honor those educating your children. Or you might simply take a moment to write a thank-you note to a teacher who had a lasting and positive effect on you.

Let’s honor teachers the first week of May, but let’s also make a habit of appreciation throughout the year.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.

Last updated on January 12, 2012