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Democrats Blast GOP Education Efforts (Apr 13, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY - Some state House Democrats say Republicans are moving education legislation through the process so quickly that there is no time to study the proposals.

One example brought up during a state Capitol news conference Wednesday was Senate Bill 891. Oktaha Schools Superintendent Jerry Needham says the legislation that’s intended to prevent retired teachers from being re-hired while also drawing retirement pay could actually cut staffing at schools.

“It’s a great benefit to school systems,” Needham said. “I just hate to see that taken away from us and make us spend more money in the same years that we’re- do not need to spend more money, and we actually need to save money. So it ends up being a cut to us.”

Representative Jerry McPeak blasted state Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi for her use of state taxpayer money to pay for a trip to Washington, D.C. so she could testify before Congress.

“To have our state school superintendent traveling around the United States, expenses paid on taxpayer money that could be used for funding education, it could be used in our schools, running down the state and telling other people all over the United States how bad Oklahoma is and how you shouldn’t come here because our education is so bad, even making a statement that says ‘public education in Oklahoma is as bad as third world countries,’” McPeak said.

Barresi’s spokesman, Damon Gardenhire, says while state lawmakers may not like what the Superintendent said before Congress, the facts about Oklahoma education are troubling.

Gardenhire says it doesn’t help anyone to pretend those facts don’t exist.

by Kurt Gwartney


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