Home > Uncategorized > Reason #2 to pick Dr. Grace over Mr. Walters: The why and the how

Reason #2 to pick Dr. Grace over Mr. Walters: The why and the how

August 19, 2022

Why are you interested in this position?

That is a question I have asked dozens of times during job interviews. Keep in mind that when I’m asking, it’s almost always for a leadership role – principal, director, assistant superintendent, etc. Sometimes, I get a well-conceived answer, something that tells me why they are the right person for this role and this district right now. Sometimes, I hear a rambling response that tells me the applicant is really looking for career advancement (which is fine, but not inspiring). On other occasions, all I get is an answer you could Google.

Before we get to Tuesday’s runoff for State Superintendent, let’s look at everything we know about the candidates and ask ourselves why each candidate wants the job? They know it’s not a cushy gig where you just put your feet up on a desk and bark buzzwords at people, right? The State Department of Education manages billions of dollars. They are responsible for ensuring compliance with untold state and federal regulations for those dollars. They oversee instruction and operations in 500+ school districts.

So what can we learn about their reason why from their campaigns? In previous posts, I’ve shared a couple of the responses that Dr. April Grace gave to OK-PLAC on their questionnaire. In this one, they specifically ask that question.

Dr. Grace talks about her granddaughter being one of the 700,000 public school children who need a great education in our state. She mentions her ability to collaborate with people from different groups and perspectives. As she has traveled around the state, putting over 1,000 miles a week on the road to meet with groups big and small, she has proven this.

Walters, as you can see, did not respond to their questionnaire. In his mind, though, he’s been running a positive campaign focused on serious issues.

Which part has been positive? The umpteen times he has said woke, indoctrination, and leftist? When his allies disgustingly refer to teachers as groomers, where is he defending the profession he claims to love? His entire campaign has lacked substance and support for the thousands of dedicated educators in our state. 

I don’t doubt that Walters – as any parent would – spends every day thinking about how he could make the world a better place for his own children. As I said in my previous post, I also don’t doubt that he was a good classroom teacher. I just don’t think he’s articulated a reason why he wants the job. 

Nor has he shown that he understands what the job entails, or how he’s going to manage all of the tasks that go along with leading a large state agency. The following screenshots show the tabs I see when I login to the Single Sign On system as a superintendent.

Even though I have administrators and support professionals to help manage many of these tasks, each one still requires a modicum of understanding and involvement on my part. Many require more frequent interaction. 

Also, please point to the tab where all the wokeness happens?

When I have a question, I can ask my Regional Accreditation Officer for assistance or another leader within the SDE. Many of them are former administrators. I’ll say it again. Experience matters. If you want to lead the state system of public schools, it would help if you know what the people leading the districts are doing. 

How will you approach these tasks on day one? Who will staff critical leadership positions within the SDE if you get the job? Will it be seasoned professionals who understand the nuance of laws and regulations? Or will it be political appointments who have never heard of Title I, IDEA, or the state funding formula?

The State Superintendent is also the Chair of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. He or she is also are on other boards and commissions, such as the Commissioners of the Land Office (which is under criminal investigation, thanks to another appointee of Gov. Stitt, Elliott Chambers.) We’ve seen that Walters can’t even handle one state contract without the feds clawing back hundreds of thousands of dollars. How is he going to handle even greater responsibility?

One candidate in Tuesday’s runoff has thought about day one…and two…and so on. That person is Dr. April Grace.

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