Truth Test: Do Ads In The State Superintendent Race Pass Or Fail?

Tuesday, June 10th 2014, 6:43 pm
By: News On 6

By Loren Cosby and Jennifer Loren, News On 6

The contest to elect a Republican candidate for state school superintendent is the most contentious race on the state primary ballot, and it's one of the tightest with the leading candidates virtually tied in our recent News On 6 poll.

5/15/2014 Related Story: EXCLUSIVE POLL: Superintendent Janet Barresi In Close Race With Challengers

With voters heading to the polls in just two weeks, we put the ads to the Truth Test.

Our goal is to find the truth, and sometimes the truth is shaded by nuance. Here's what we found.

The first ad we checked, paid for by Friends of Janet Barresi, claims opponent Joy Hofmeister conspired with education bureaucrats, who sued parents of special needs children.

The ad implies Hofmeister favors doing away with state-funded scholarships that send special needs children to private schools.

True and False:

The ad is based on e-mails between Hofmeister, a Jenks parent and school officials in 2012 and 2013. In one email exchange Hofmeister does appear to support a parent's idea to, "stop the private schools from signing up to accept the Henry scholarship students."

Hofmeister started that exchange by linking to a news article out of Florida, explaining how private schools planned to opt out of a similar scholarship program there, and then by responding, "great idea" when that parent suggested we do the same in Oklahoma.

Hofmeister, a state board of education member at the time, copied Jenks and Union school officials on that exchange, but she claims it's taken out of context.

Even if Hofmeister appears to support the parent's idea, her voting record suggests she does support the special needs scholarship program. In 2013 Hofmeister voted to expand parts of the scholarship and school choice for parents, also pointing out she's the parent of a special needs student.

Friends of Joy Hofmeister is running its own ad taking a shot at Janet Barresi for supporting Common Core.

You Decide:

It's true that she supported Common Core, but not an Obama takeover. Plus, Barresi wrote a letter praising Obama's national education plan which takes control away from parents at local schools into the hands of Washington, D.C. bureaucrats.

That letter to the U.S. Education Secretary is from May, 2013, and is titled "An Open Letter of Support for Common Core." It's signed by Barresi and educators from several states.

In a statement, her campaign manager said Barresi supported Common Core at the beginning, but now said it's become too difficult, inflexible and is a distraction to raising education standards.

Hofmeister said the line "Obama's takeover of our schools" in her ad refers to the federal financial strings attached to states operating under Common Core.

Barresi's campaign obtained the Jenks e-mails through an Open Records Act request. You can see them here.