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Oklahoma governor-elect chooses education secretary

Phyllis Hudecki will serve as Oklahoma's secretary of education after Mary Fallin is sworn in as governor Jan. 10.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: November 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm •  Published: November 23, 2010

The executive director of the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition has been selected by Gov.-elect Mary Fallin to serve as her education secretary.

Phyllis Hudecki will serve on Fallin's Cabinet after Fallin is sworn into office Jan. 10, it was announced Tuesday at a news conference.

Fallin said Hudecki “has been one of our leading education policy minds in the state of Oklahoma.”

Hudecki will be working with Republican state schools Superintendent-elect Janet Barresi “to deliver strong, effective educational institutions here in Oklahoma,” Fallin said.

One of Fallin's campaign promises was to improve the state's public schools, colleges and universities and CareerTechs to provide a quality, educated work force.

“Quality jobs require a quality, highly educated work force,” Fallin said. “We can't attract business and opportunities to the state of Oklahoma when our high school students are unprepared for either entering into higher education ... or unprepared to enter into the work force.”

Fallin didn't offer specifics Tuesday. She said she will be forming an education task force that will be looking at ways to reduce bureaucratic costs and administrative overhead in the state's education system.

“We have to have it as a goal to get more money into the classroom directly to the students where it can have the most effect,” Fallin said.

Education expenses make up 52 percent of this fiscal year's $6.7 billion budget. About $2.4 billion is earmarked for public schools, higher education gets about $1 billion and CareerTech gets $142 million.

Hudecki said improving the education of children in the state is an economic imperative.

“We must get to that immediately,” she said. “Attracting jobs and business to this state means cultivating a highly skilled, highly educated work force. And that will require reform in all parts of our system.

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