State Rep. Joe Dorman issued a news release Wednesday evening slamming Gov. Mary Fallin on her education policies and accusing her of considering the appointment of outgoing State Superintendent Janet Barresi as secretary of education.

But Fallin’s spokesman dismissed Dorman’s press release as “baseless and silly,” and he accused the Democratic nominee for governor of starting the rumor about Barresi himself as a way to trump up publicity for his campaign.

“Superintendent Barresi has never asked to be considered nor has she ever been considered for secretary of education,” said Alex Weintz, Fallin’s spokesman. “We actually said that before he put out his press release, so all he would ever have needed to do was pick up the phone and call.”

Robert Sommers, whom Fallin appointed as secretary of education in June 2013, announced Tuesday that he would resign in August.

Dorman, of Rush Springs, said he had heard rumors from multiple sources that Fallin might fill Sommers’ position by tapping Barresi, who came in third in the Republican primary last month in her bid for re-election.

“This is an absolutely bone-chilling idea for Oklahoma’s education system — but, given how Fallin and Barresi share the same regressive education policies, what’s most scary is how plausible it might be,” Dorman said.

“Sommers’ retirement gives Fallin a prime opportunity to reverse the June primary results and to continue the ‘Fal-esi’ plan,” Dorman said. “This means more one-size-fits-all high-stakes tests, more flawed A-F grading for schools and continued overall lack of respect for public education. The voters last month soundly repudiated this agenda, but I fear Fallin didn’t get the message.”

He added, “We cannot continue Fallin and Barresi’s destructive education policies.”

Weintz said the Governor’s Office had no timeline for naming Sommers’ successor

“We would rather have a new secretary of education sooner rather than later, but we also want to have the right secretary of education,” Weintz said. “We want someone who has the ability to bring everyone to the table — teachers, administrators and parents — and someone who is committed to high academic standards and classroom rigor.”

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Andrea Eger 918-581-8470

Staff Writer

Andrea is a projects reporter, examining key education topics and other local issues. Since joining the Tulsa World in 1999, she has been a three-time winner of Oklahoma’s top award for investigative reporting by an individual. Phone: 918-581-8470

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