By Patrick B. McGuigan & Stacy Martin, Editors
Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi is hiring Joel Robison, a high-ranking official with the Oklahoma Education Association, as her chief of staff, sources told The City Sentinel late Friday, December 2.
Jennifer Carter, Barresi’s first chief of staff, decided not to return from her recent maternity leave.
Robison, the head lobbyist executive for the Sooner State’s largest teachers’ union, began listing conservatives and conservative groups as “activities and interests” some time ago. His formal title with the OEA is Associate Executive Director, Legislative and Political Organizing.
In 2010, the OEA advocated State Question 744, a ballot initiative funded by the National Education Association (NEA) that would have required Oklahoma to move to the regional average for teachers’ salaries. Voters crushed the measure, by more than 81 percent against. Opponents included many leading Democrats, including former Governor Brad Henry, in coalition with conservatives.
In August, responding to an inquiry from Stacy Martin concerning his possible hiring by the state Education Department, Robison said, “I’ve heard the rumors. I have no job offers from the state department of education.”
Asked if he would accept an offer from Barresi, Robison said, “Come on, I’m not sure whether or not….I’m not sure I want to go down that. … So far as the rumor on the state department, as far as I know, that has no basis in fact.”
On Friday afternoon (December 2), CapitolBeatOK asked the superintendent’s communications staff to confirm information provided by sources that Barresi was hiring Robison. After not hearing from her staff, this story was posted.