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Leadership Change at State Dept. of Education (Jan 10, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - After 44 years in public education, including 20 years as Oklahoma's top education official, longtime state schools superintendent Sandy Garrett is ready for a break.

Garrett told The Associated Press last week that she'll always be interested in education, but she has many things to do that she hasn't been able to do while working as state's top teacher.

Then-Republican Gov. Henry Bellmon appointed Garret, a Democrat as secretary of education in 1988.

In the past two decades, Garrett has built a pre-kindergarten program recognized as one of the best in the nation, embraced Internet technology as it developed and supported a teacher of the year program that awards upward of $50,000.

Republican Janet Barresi starts Monday as the new state superintendent of schools, succeeding Sandy Garrett.

In the 1990s, Barresi and other parents persuaded the Oklahoma City school board to create a parent-run "enterprise" middle school, which became one of the state's charter schools after the Legislature authorized them. She eventually started two charter schools and became president of the Oklahoma Association of Charter Schools.

Barresi spent more time on educational issues and sold her

dental practice. She says her agenda includes rethinking how education is delivered to students, restructuring the Department of Education and reforming schools.

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