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A Time for Unity

November 2, 2014

For one of the few times that I can recall, the editorialists at the Oklahoman and I are on the same page. Today, they listed all the people we should vote for on Tuesday. In the case of their endorsement of Governor Fallin, I disagree. In fact, I disagree with quite a few of their choices. One paragraph, however, caught my eye.

State Schools Superintendent

Democrat John Cox faces Republican Joy Hofmeister. Cox is the longtime superintendent of Peggs Public Schools. Hofmeister owned a private tutoring service and briefly served on the state Board of Education. The Oklahoman makes no recommendation in this race.

This is only a hunch, but I do believe they’re still sore that their horse came in dead last in the June primary. Go figure.

wambulance

As for me, I too will make no endorsement – probably for different reasons. I like both candidates – one more than the other. I also have concerns with each, though nothing that I would consider a deal breaker. If my choice doesn’t win Tuesday, I can cheerfully support the candidate who does.

What I can’t support is the divisions that have surfaced recently among educators and education voters during the last few weeks. What Cox and Hofmeister have done this fall – traveling the state and making numerous appearances together – is incredible. Governor Fallin only debated Joe Dorman once. Some candidates for statewide office have avoided their opponents completely. There are differences, and they are significant.

Two people whose writing I enjoy reading are Rob Miller and Marisa Dye. Both have insight regarding public education. Both have endorsed candidates for state superintendent this weekend. Yesterday, Dye endorsed Cox. Today, Miller endorsed Hofmeister. Each has sound reasons that work for them. Both have done their homework. Neither wrote their endorsements while vilifying the other candidate. The fact is that we’re all people concerned about reversing the political climate that attacks public education. We all have different triggers that make us mark our ballots for whomever we choose.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen too much of the negative turn lately, and it falls along predictable divides: large schools vs. small schools; rural vs. suburban; Republican vs. Democrat. Sometimes these differences matter, but in this race, they shouldn’t. Unlike Janet Barresi and Mary Fallin, neither candidate has done a thing to hurt public education. I’ve even seen the campaigning turn negative, which is bound to happen in a tight statewide race. To be honest, it hasn’t been as ugly as the primaries, which is a good thing.

When the votes are counted Tuesday night, we will have chosen a new state superintendent. Hopefully, we will have chosen a new governor too, but I’ve already put my chips down on that race. Joy can do this job, and so can John. Whoever wins, we will have an effective advocate for funding and common sense when it comes to school regulations. Both would face significant obstacles, though. As Brett Dickerson points out today, there will be forces trying to wrest control over policy decisions away from the new state superintendent.

If we want effective public and publicly-controlled schools in Oklahoma we will have to step up and aggressively defend the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction, no matter who wins, Democrat John Cox or Republican Joy Hofmeister.

Why? Won’t it be enough to just move Barresi out? Sorry, no.

If the forces in power – whether they are all Republicans or a mixture of both parties – want to mute us, they will start by marginalizing the office that Cox and Hofmeister seek. Then they will build upon the divisions that have surfaced during the campaign. Get the urban/suburban schools going in one direction and the rural schools going in another. Push consolidation to the constituency that wants it and drive into the rural communities saying you’ll block it. Meanwhile, we’ll be griping about federal intrusion into our schools in spite of the burdensome regulations the state has given us.

Vote your heart on Tuesday – even if it’s taking you in a different direction than mine. Then, we need to come together, unite, and fight for public education. June 24 was step one. November 4 is step two. After that, we still have to endure the legislative shenanigans of people who work from February through May and think they know our jobs better than we do.

For that, we’ll need to stick together.

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  1. November 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    This is the critical message of this entire campaign. I am optimistic we can change the discussion and make progress this spring. We will only do so united in purpose. Divided we will fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 3, 2014 at 7:10 am

      Rob, the response to your endorsement of Joy (on your blog) is exactly what I’m talking about). I am astounded that people would question your motives. We need to get past this quickly. The #oklaed community needs to unite behind the winner in this race, immediately after the votes are counted.

      Like

  2. Kevin Hime
    November 2, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I agree when we wake up Wednesday we better be united or we will be in serious trouble.

    Like

  3. Brooke
    November 2, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks for the post! I’ll be voting for Dr. Cox! Here’s to a Wednesday morning with peace and quiet!

    Like

  4. November 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I agreed that we must be unified. We can’t be caught napping after Tuesday. We must continue to be watchdogs for the education of Oklahoma’s students. Thanks for writing an important message that everyone needs to hear.

    Like

    • November 2, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      * agree #postingfromaphone

      Like

  5. November 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

    OK. I’ll vote for Cox, but I’ll also support Joy. I wish we could have both of them. And anything is better than what we had. Please, let’s unite behind the winner.

    Like

  1. November 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm
  2. December 28, 2014 at 10:18 pm
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