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Janet Barresi addresses new grading system, school safety in Norman forum

Oklahoma state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi toured the Norman School District on Friday, then answered questions about the new A-F school grading system, school safety and other issues in a community forum at Norman North High School.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Modified: February 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm •  Published: February 9, 2013

Since the gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Barresi said, she has faced repeated questions from students concerned about their safety in the classroom.

“So job one is to help these kids feel safe in their own classrooms. I wish I had a magic bullet for this, but I don't,” Barresi said.

She applauded efforts by the governor's office and the Legislature in addressing school safety through the formation of a committee to study the issue. She also praised schools' efforts in holding disaster drills “for all kinds of disasters. I think that's important to do.”

When asked specifically if she favored arming teachers, Barresi said, “No one solution fits every school. … I expect the debate will continue.”

‘Putting a face on what we do'

Adequate public school funding remains an issue, Barresi said, adding that funding teacher training to improve classroom effectiveness is high on her priority list.

“The quality of the education we provide is the most important thing,” she said.

Barresi lunched with high school students and toured Norman's newest and most cutting-edge elementary school, Ronald Reagan Elementary School, which opened its doors in September, calling it “not just a building, but a support for children's education.”

She also praised Norman's curriculums, technology and the district's attention to providing alternative education.

Barresi's appearance in Norman is part of a tour of Oklahoma schools. The superintendent said she visits at least one district a week, and sometimes as many as three or four.

“I can't tell you how constructive it is for me,” Barresi said. “It puts a face on what we do.”

by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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