Oklahoma FOIA Documents


The Oklahoma emails, like those from some of the other states, contain the Foundation for Excellence in Education's national plans.  A notable omission in the Oklahoma emails is Supt. Barresi's acknowledgement of an email from FEE CEO Patricia Levesque urging to Barresi and others to encourage teachers in their states to use SendHub, a product Jeb Bush had invested in. Barresi's response to Levesque was included in public records provided by Rhode Island because officials in that state were cc'd on the emails.The Oklahoma emails reveal some facts specific to the state's education policymaking:

  • Superintendent Barresi being introduced to Scott Laband, the vice president of Colorado Succeeds, for a forum with Stand for Children Colorado.
  • Superintendent Barresi as a guest of Louis A. Piconi--Founder & SVP Strategic Activities, Apangea Learning Inc., a distance learning company--to an event he hosted for Tony Bennett and Jeb Bush.
  • Regulatory drafting and revisions being performed by the Foundation for the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
  • Superintendent Barresi asking for Foundation assistance in drafting its ESEA flexibility request to the federal Department of Education.

Connections to other Education Reformers and Education CompaniesIn a June 7, 2011 email, the Foundation’s Patricia Levesque introduced Superintendent Barresi to a Colorado education reformer, Scott Laband of Colorado Succeeds, in the hopes of getting the Superintendent to a forum co-hosted by Stand for Children Colorado on a test based promotion policy in 3rd grade.  Also, in an October 7, 2011, email the Superintendent accepted an invitation from the founder of a digital learning company to be his guest at an event he hosted for Tony Bennett and Jeb Bush. Waiver Assistance from the Foundation
 Superintendent Barresi leaned on the Foundation for assistance with the Department of Education. On August 10, 2011, she wrote Levesque:

Sec. Duncan called the governor and asked that Oklahoma send a framework document to him next week prior to USDE releasing guidelines. I assume other C4C folks received the same call. I have a meeting tomorrow with gov staff to discuss. I am putting together my ideas but want to bounce some things off of you or anyone working on this.

On August 12, 2011 Superintendent Barresi wrote to the Foundation and the Chiefs:Good afternoon: I was asked by my Governor to compose this letter that would go out to Duncan next week. The internal politics of this is that Gov. Fallin does not want our waiver request to appear to be skirting the work of Congress r chairman Klein. I agree with that. This is why we are asking for a three year waiver with an option to go an additional year. Please note that I am sending you a draft that will be a work in progress with the governor next week. Comments? 

Supt Barresi,
I want to introduce you to Scott Laband the vice president of Colorado Succeeds an education advocacy group in Colorado. 
In conjunction with Stand for Children Colorado, they would like to host a 3rd grade literacy forum to influence the literacy task force created by Gov. Hickenlooper. One of the goals is to get the task force to adopt an Oklahoma style test based promotion policy in 3rd grade. 
They would like to invite you to speak on a panel. I will be speaking on a panel as well. 
I just wanted you to know that Colorado Succeeds is an excellent organization and it would be wonderful if you could participate if your schedule permits. 
October 7, 2011 email from Louis A. Piconi to Janet Barresi
Are you planning to be in San Francisco next week? If so, would you like
to be my guest at an event supporting Tony Bennett on Wednesday evening?
Talk to you soon.
Louis A. Piconi
Founder & SVP Strategic Activities, Apangea Learning Inc.
August 10, 2011 email from Janet Barresi
note that I am sending you a draft that will be a work in progress with the governor next week. Comments? 

Finally, in October 2011, the Superintendent’s staff received an email about waiver assistance from the Foundation:

Hey Kerri,
John Bailey, our federal policy superstar, can help Oklahoma with this process. I’ve cc’d him, and Superintendent Barresi knows him well.
But let me know if you need anything else as you move through this process.
Mary Laura 

Regulatory Assistance from the Foundation
The Department of Education relied on the Foundation for regulatory drafting assistance. A Department of Education staffer emailed the Foundation on August 22, 2011

Good Morning, Mary Laura,
I hope you had a wonderful Weekend....
I have these 2 Rules and Technical Document to finish. I want your input
to finish them.... we will have to work with what Oklahoma has in place at
this time and add in the future those pieces that are making Florida 

Attorneys at the state Department of Education sought input from Foundation staff on regulations they were drafting. On February 8, 2012, an assistant general counsel of the Department emailed the Foundation:

Attached for your review is a revised draft of the A‐F rule—which incorporates all of the edits we made today. We will pick up tomorrow morning at 9:00 am with sec on (f).
If you have any questions, please let me know.