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Influence over Action

July 17, 2013

I’ve been asked a few times this week by readers to comment on the Governor’s transition from Phyllis Hudecki to Robert Sommers as Secretary of Education. The truth is that I don’t have much to say.

Hudecki is a lifetime Oklahoman who has worked for a long time to improve schools as a representative of the state’s business community. She has a history of listening to parents, teachers, and administrators. She is well-spoken and measured. Quite a few administrators in this state consider her to be an ally to the profession.

Sommers has been in Oklahoma for a few months. He has close ties to Jeb Bush and opened the door for more charter schools and vouchers in Ohio. He really doesn’t have a track record here, but we know this move strengthens the ties between our state’s leaders and the top engines for corporate education reform.

The most important thing to remember about this move, though, is that a Secretary’s role is quite different than that of the State Superintendent. Sommers will be a top education advisor to the governor. He will not be running an agency. He will not be making major policy decisions or selecting testing vendors. That will still be Janet Barresi, who is excited about the selection:

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 16, 2013) – Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi issued the following statement regarding the appointment by Gov. Mary Fallin of Dr. Robert Sommers as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Education and Workforce.

“I am pleased that Gov. Fallin has appointed Dr. Bob Sommers as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Education and Workforce. Since April, when Dr. Sommers became the state director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, there has been a renewed sense of energy in the state’s educational partnership between career tech and the PK-12 public education system.

“Dr. Sommers truly understands the importance of increased student achievement and quality career training as it relates to preparing our children and adults to succeed in the workforce. This appointment confirms and strengthens our work in that direction.

“As I review job growth within the five ecosystems as identified by Gov. Fallin, many of the jobs of the future are in the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. As a means of assuring Oklahoma continues to enjoy positive economic growth, Dr. Sommers and I are committed to working together to provide opportunities in the STEM subjects to all students.”

If anything, this move places Governor Fallin closer to the inner circle of Jeb Bush, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016. Since this is an education blog, and not a venue in which I care to discuss national politics, I should probably stop there.

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  1. Kate
    July 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Carpe Diem Indiana, Inc – Board of Directors Meeting
    February 1, 2013 – 11 AM
    Indianapolis, IN
    Minutes
    1. The meeting was called to order by Jason Bearce at 11:03 AM
    2. Roll call
    a. Board members attending – Jason Bearce, Robert Enlow, Leigh Evans, Katrina Clingerman
    b. Robert Sommers and Rick Ogston attended in support of the Board
    3. Management information
    a. Discussion of the position transition for Robert Sommers.
    i. Robert will be leaving the management of day to day operations at Carpe Diem Learning Systems to lead the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education effective April 1, 2013.
    ii. Robert will continue to engage as a regular member of CDLS.

    Note #3 agenda items…..Interesting that Robert Sommers continues to engage as a regular member of CDLS while being employed by the state of Oklahoma as the Director of the OKLAHOMA Dept. of Career and Technology. How does that happen? If you visit the Carpe Diem Indiana web site his name is still a presence as CEO. I can’t imagine that they would not have updated the site and removed his name…… unless of course he is still involved.

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  2. Kate
    July 17, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Robert Sommers Linkedin page:
    Current: State Director at Oklahoma Department of Career & Technology Ed
    Chief Strategy Officer at Carpe Diem Learning Systems

    I wonder how he has time for a second job in another state no less. I would think being State Director of Career Tech and now holding the Secretary of Education cabinet position would make for a full plate. I hope he takes vacation leave when performing his Indiana job duties. Seems a bit shady, but that would explain why the State Dentist loves him!!!!! lol

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  3. July 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Interesting also that he actually works FOR Barresi, since she chairs the Board that hired him. …

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  4. John doe
    September 14, 2013 at 1:49 am

    Who researched bob sommers career before they hired him? Did they not ask the governor of Ohio why they fired him? bob likes to surround himself with yes men, and if your not a yes man you will be eliminated even if your work has been stellar. The Board of Directors need to watch bob like a hawk, as it won’t be long before his good old boy system will lead to his demise again.

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  1. September 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm
  2. July 15, 2014 at 10:52 pm
  3. August 7, 2014 at 7:45 pm
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