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Sixteen Days to Something Different

I’ve been working off and on for a few days on a post on the education budget, especially the activities budget. I’m not going to finish it.

The post I didnt finish.png

If you want to try to understand the process by which these decisions were made, you should go to the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s website and find the board documentation they provided. Some projects weren’t cut. Some were cut more heavily than others. You can also watch State Superintendent explain in the video below.

If you want to see more written about the Activities Budget, you can do one of two things. You can read the Oklahoman and Tulsa World coverage, or you can get your own blog. It’s really easy.

What’s done is done. We can dwell on it, as we plan for another school year with less money and more students. Instead, maybe we should do something about it. We can’t keep sending the same people to the Oklahoma Capitol and expect them to do different things. The government is broken, but we keep sending delegates from the same set of archetypes to represent us.

We have tax policy purists, who will never stray from their pledges to national groups that make adherents swear never to raise taxes. I like low taxes too, but I also like a state government that funds core services at something above famine level. More importantly, I like for our elected leaders to forego signing pledges to special interest groups. And yes, that includes public education. Make pledges to your voters.

We have people who can’t wait to throw their piety in your face. They want you to know and adhere to their moral code. They also want you to vilify anybody who believes differently.

We have people whose ambition seems to be their defining trait. They barely mask it. They migrate from interest to interest, always throwing their own name on top of whatever hot topic seizes the public’s attention. They love the issues that prey on the electorate’s emotions, even though they know that there is no way the legislation they propose or pass will ever be enacted.

I could go on and on, but what we don’t have is a critical mass of legislators who get it. Yes, I know that’s incredibly vague criticism, but I can be more specific.

If you look at the state’s budget overall, you can see that some agencies and services took harder hits than K-12 education did. Maybe it’s fair to say that our state leaders are angrier with OU president David Boren than they are with us. If that’s the case, maybe I should stop writing.

I tease. Of course spite would never factor into the budget writing process, right?

Our governor and legislators keep pointing to the fact that the price of a barrel of oil is really low. That’s not their fault, of course, but the policies of the last 10 years that have depleted state revenues are their fault. Again, I want low taxes. I also want fully funded schools. I want roads and bridges that don’t collapse under the weight of traffic. I want prisons that aren’t a danger to those who work there due to overcrowding. I want the state services for the poor, elderly, mentally ill, and drug-addicted to remain viable options for their families.

In short, I want state leaders who don’t kick the financial can down the road and balance the budget on the backs of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. So do many Oklahomans, and that is why we have so many primary races coming up that feature viable challengers to incumbent representatives and senators.

Associated Press writer Sean Murphy wrote about this yesterday:

Mid-year cuts to public schools and other state services, along with a looming budget crisis, helped draw a record number of political newcomers to races for state House and Senate offices in Oklahoma this year.

Legislators will soon learn if the same general discontent exists among voters, who head to the polls June 28 for Oklahoma’s statewide primary election. Every Oklahoma senator up for re-election drew at least one opponent this year, while only 14 current House members went unopposed as a record number of candidates filed for office.

Rep. John Paul Jordan, a first-term Republican who represents the Oklahoma City suburb of Yukon, drew a slate of opponents including two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent.

“There’s frustration with the Legislature, and I think we’re looking at an election cycle where a lot of people are just frustrated with the status quo,” Jordan said.

We’re very frustrated. Incumbents know it. That’s why they’re doing anything they can to turn back their challengers. Murphy continues:

On the Senate side, two-term incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Newberry of Tulsa also was a popular target, drawing two Republican challengers, three Democrats and an independent. Among his Democratic opponents is a retired superintendent from Sand Springs, and Newberry acknowledges some pro-education groups would like to knock him out of office.

“I think it’s a concerted effort by a special interest group that doesn’t appreciate the work that’s being done in the Capitol building, and they want to take a shot at people running for re-election,” Newberry said.

I’ll admit to being a part of a special interest group that doesn’t appreciate the work being done at the Capitol. That’s why I’ve been flying the state flag upside down as a sign of distress on Facebook and Twitter for weeks. They aren’t serving their constituents. They’re serving their donors. Or their parties.

dear lord brian jackson is friends with a democrat we are all going to die

Typically, once either party can verify that you are a bonafide registered voter in that party, they let you look around in the pantry for any ingredients that will help you in the kitchen. In this case, however, the Oklahoma Republican Party has told Newberry’s primary challenger, Brian Jackson, that he can take his knives and go. Jackson and retiring Sand Springs superintendent Lloyd Snow – who is running for the same seat as a Democrat – are friends. They both know that Newberry’s record on public education is lousy, and they’ve said so, jointly. Neither is waging a partisan campaign. Much like the main characters in the Frog and Toad books, Brian and Lloyd are friends.when lloyd met brian

For those of us who choose people and issues over parties, the denial of resources to a bonafide candidate stinks to high heaven. If you look at just education issues, I’m probably going to agree with both Jackson and Snow a lot more than I would agree with Newberry. Beyond that, I’d be likely to agree with Snow on some issues and Jackson on another. I’m not beholden to either party. I don’t check all the boxes on either list.

I am a voter who supports public education, though, and I’m one who thinks that we are at a crossroads. We can make some serious change, and  we can do it soon.

Still, some don’t believe. They think we’re doomed to fail. As the Tulsa World reported yesterday:

The strife during the recent legislative session and the proliferation of candidates it produced are unlikely to lead to a major challenge to Republican control of state government, political observers speaking at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa said Friday.

“I’ll be shocked if there’s a net change of two seats either way,” Republican political consultant Pat McFerron said.

I’m not looking to change the Republican to Democrat ratio in the House or Senate nearly as much as I’m looking to change the degree to which the chambers as a whole support public education. I’d love to see Jackson take Newberry out in the primary. If Jackson wins and comes up against Snow, I really don’t have a preference.

If we change two seats this month in the primary elections, that alone would be huge. Former State Board of Education member Tim Gilpin agrees:

What will make Oklahoma great again, or at least better? Answer — teachers. The last several years we’ve endured drastic cuts to education, public safety and health care programs. Cuts that are short-sighted and destructive to our present and future. This occurred while teachers were largely absent as a political force in Oklahoma. But, in the late 1980s educators were leaders in our state’s politics and we were better off for it. Cuts in our state budget started during the Great Recession. But even in the face of record energy prices and a national recovery, our state leaders continued cutting education and basic services. Our current problems are not all about low energy prices.

I have friends who have made lists. I even am a board member of a group that put out a list of pro-education candidates, though I don’t agree with all the selections. How could I? In a state as spread out as ours, I don’t have the information to know the ins and outs of all the races. After all, we have 101 representatives and 48 senators. All of the House and half of the Senate seats are up for re-election.

I’ve already chimed in on Newberry and two of his challengers. I’ll go ahead and give my two cents publicly on one more race.

Senate District 45 covers most of the Mustang school district and a considerable portion of the Moore school district. In other words, this race is about the places where I have spent the majority of my career. It even covers the far southwestern tip of Mid-Del. The incumbent, Kyle Loveless, is finishing his first term. I met him when I worked in Moore, and he came to ask us questions about the Reading Sufficiency Act. He even visited one of our elementary schools in Mid-Del last fall. I have no complaints about his availability. He is friendly and engaging when I’ve been around him.

His record on education leaves much to be desired, though. He is a staunch supporter of vouchers, and he frequently takes to social media to push the school consolidation agenda. He, along with members of groups that are openly hostile to public education, also often chastise schools for the actions of individuals. Somehow, even though Sen. Loveless has his own children in public schools, it serves him politically to paint schools as horrible places.

His opponent, on the other hand, is Mike Mason, a teacher at Mustang High School. I taught with Mike during my last six years at MHS. Teachers respected him. Parents and students appreciated him. He was teacher of the year for 2016, and the Oklahoman even ran a highly positive story on him prior to his filing for SD 45. Mike is a true educator and more than any other candidate I can name, one who would change the makeup of the Senate.

Mason is underfunded, compared to the incumbent, but money isn’t everything. Jeb Bush had more donations than any other presidential candidate. That didn’t work out too well for him, did it? If Mike is to win this seat – for that matter, if any of the challengers are to win, we simply have to overcome complacency. We have to vote.

Know which House and Senate seats represent you. Find your polling place or learn how to vote early. Donate to candidates you support who support public education and volunteer for their campaigns. And call some friends.

This election cycle matters. We may not have the unifying symbol of She Who Must Not be Named to kick around anymore. We have to do more focused and detailed work to find and support good candidates who believe in public schools.

So what are you waiting for? We have 16 days.

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Change the World; Make a Difference

April 12, 2016 5 comments

Do you remember as a child how weird it was when you saw your teacher in the grocery store?

Mom! Look! It’s Mrs. B! Look! She buys canned corn too! Mom! Mom! She even buys dog food! Mom!

This person who had helped you find a book in the library, who had silenced you in the hallway with nothing more than a look, and who sprayed Bactine on your knee after you scraped it during recess (stick with me here; it was the 70s) – she was more than a teacher. She existed outside of the school building. She had physiological needs, like nutrition. She probably even had a family, and maybe even free will. It was mind blowing.

Remember that moment and multiply it by a billion. As KWTV reported last week, dozens of educators plan to run for the state Legislature:

Between 30 and 40 Oklahoma educators are running for a spot at the Capitol and they’re filing at the same time next week.

Judy Mullen Hopper is one of them, running for senate. She is frustrated with budget cuts on education. Mullen Hopper retired last year after 35 years.

“I retired with mixed emotions. I knew I had to, just because emotionally I was drained, but I also knew that those kiddos and those parents still needed a voice for them, so here I am,” Mullen Hopper said.

“I’m very excited to see it. I think it’s monumental,” said Kelly Dodd, an Oklahoma parent.

Dodd is a mother of three and actively involved in her kids’ education.

“That’s where a lot of the disconnect occurs. When you don’t have that communication, and then you have people at the Capitol making decisions based about what they think without actually consulting our educators, who are in the classroom,” Dodd said.

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Your teachers have gone from buying corn and dog food at the Humpty Dumpty (another 70s reference) to standing up for themselves and their profession. It’s simply radical. Predictably, not everybody is impressed. Our friends at ROPE 2.0 are shocked – SHOCKED! – that teachers would cast off their genteel personas and storm into a different kind of public service. Under the KWTV story, they posted this long-winded rant to their FB page Sunday:

This was rather shocking. Throughout the years, educators have been considered models of society and society has placed ‘public education’ on a pedestal as though those with the title of ‘educator’ somehow automatically knew/know better than parents or legislators – or the man on the street even – how to educate children. Yes, educators have themselves undertaken an education in order to provide that for others, yet every year, society becomes rougher and less educated, forcing one to wonder at the voracity of the product provided by public education. Today, individuals (parents, educators and administrators) linked to the group in this article (for whom KWTV actually provides a link to their PAC fundraising site) have lied about and mischaracterized our organization all across social media, have written blogs defaming legislators, individuals and other groups that disagree with their positions, using vulgar language and personal attacks to drive their message home. They will tell you that their blogs are covered by free speech and don’t necessarily reflect the work they do – for which they are paid by the taxpayers of this state – yet, really, who wants to send their child to a school where an administrator or teacher can and will, lie about others while using incendiary and vulgar language? I don’t, and I’m very much hoping that other parents (and teachers) are getting the idea that public education – to these people – isn’t about children, it’s about money, it’s about ideology, not education. If it were, there wouldn’t be ugly rhetoric about a system of education, there would be conciliatory and kind language combined with a sense of partnership with parents to determine what’s best for their child. It would behoove any taxpayer to determine who these candidates are, what they stand for (besides publicly provided education) and their backgrounds before any vote is cast (hopefully, just as you would for any issue).
We’re not the only ones that are noticing this trend. This was another post attached to this article from elsewhere on Facebook:

“I hope you’re paying attention:
What’s scary is the progressive educators that will run to advance their own twisted ideals. Education needs to get back to strictly academics and leave social mentoring to parents and families. We have several educators in OK that very openly and proudly admit to being change agents (they ignorantly don’t understand what all that implies, but they’ve been indoctrinated to believe it’s a good thing so they forge forward with the harm and destruction they perpetrate).
Progressive educators who are:
1. pro-centralization
2. pro- top-down control
3. pro-identity politics
4. pro-collectivization & labeling
5. pro-children as human capital to be used and exploited to benefit someone else
6. pro-socialism (socialism controlled by the government, so literally pro-communism).
7. pro-moral relativism
8. pro-force to impose compliance
9. anti-traditional
10. anti-God in favor of man (government) being the absolute power and authority)
11. anti-American- foreign cultures, beliefs, views, etc. are equal or better than American cultures, beliefs, views in America (the U.S.)
12. anti-individual
13. anti-free will
14. anti-freedom
The more force that is imposed to control society, the less freedom society has.
Progressive educators are promoting thoughts and behaviors that reduce an individual’s ability to control themselves. When you can’t control yourself, you open the door for others to control you.
How are people controlled into compliance by force?
Fines
Fees
Taxes
Rules
Regulations
Mandates
Laws
Incarceration
Etc. etc. etc.
The more force, the less freedom.
Responsibility, accountability, and self-control of oneself (the individual) is the only social concept that should be promoted in education.
Kindness towards others (the collective) is the only social concept that should be promoted in education. Right now we have educators deciding who is worthy of kindness and who is not and who deserves more kindness than someone else. That mentality must be eliminated.
If you can’t control yourself (your own behavior, your own free will), it is a GUARANTEE that someone else will step in & intervene to control you.
Those who promote civil unrest, community organizing, violent societal agitators, and change agents who view terms like “social justice warrior’s” (a collective form of bullying to control others) as progress, enlightenment, and/or advancing liberty are ONLY encouraging lack of self-control and the insertion of outward control.
You, as the individual, have the power and the right to control yourself. Don’t let someone else take that away from you for any reason ever.”

Yes, this is what they think of us. They think that educators – especially those of us who dare to speak our minds – are about money, rather than children. They think we’re pushing a subversive agenda because we care about all students, even the ones with problems, even the ones who sometimes make us uncomfortable. Apparently, they think we’re “violent societal agitators” too. And for some strange reason, they think that when #oklaed bloggers cut-and-paste their words into our posts, we’re making stuff up. Weird.

They want teachers to be quiet and passive. They don’t want to see us in the grocery stores. They want us to teach memorization and computation. Cursive and grammar. Nothing else.

Obviously, this is an extremist viewpoint. Most Oklahomans still respect teachers and still value public education. I would argue that somewhere between many and most of our current legislators do too. During the next three days, many Oklahoma educators will be taking the courageous leap to ensure their collective voices are heard. As the Tulsa World reported Wednesday:

At least 30 public school educators, spouses of public school educators, local school board members and other supporters with school ties from across the state are planning to file en masse for legislative races on Wednesday afternoon.

They include Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year and national Teacher of the Year finalist Shawn Sheehan, Blanchard Public Schools’ superintendent and two Tulsa Public Schools teachers.

Of the profiles I’ve read of these candidates so far, they come from all walks. They are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. They are veterans, and they are relatively new in their careers. They are from all over the state. There is no monochrome setting you can apply to this group. They are vibrant and diverse. Sorry, ROPE. You can’t just label them. All that anti-American hogwash above doesn’t apply here.

The new phone books are here.gif

On the spectrum of non-education issues, I would suspect that this group is all over the political map. On education issues, I would hope they’re pretty aligned. I wouldn’t guarantee it, though.

Some will win, and some will lose. Some have well-organized campaigns with months of planning behind them. Some have sprung up within the last week. Some face tough, entrenched incumbents. Some vie for seats that are opened. Some may not even be the reliable pro-education votes we hope they are. I can think of a former teacher or two who I wouldn’t consider friends to the cause.

Nevertheless, this is an exciting time. Officially, filing for public office starts tomorrow and lasts through Friday. Teachers are everywhere, and that can’t be a bad thing. They’re some of my favorite people.

About the Governor’s Race

I’ve been quiet the last couple of weeks, mainly just enjoying my summer. I go to work. I come home and do things not related to my job or education policy. I catch up a little on Twitter. Otherwise, I’ve been staying low key regarding politics, and enjoying every minute of it.

In June, I was the blogger who wouldn’t shut up, and it wore me out. Before work, I was researching and writing. After work, it was more of the same. I was tired, but it was worth it. As David Blatt pointed out today, the rise of activists on social media probably contributed something to the defeat of Janet Barresi in the Republican primary.

The anti-Barresi movement was united by frustration with high-stakes testing and inadequate funding of public education. The A-F school grading system, mandatory third-grade retention and efforts to expand charter schools all stoked the feeling that the superintendent and her supporters were bent on implementing an ideologically driven agenda at the expense of teachers, students and parents.

The movement, which identifies itself by the Twitter hashtag #oklaed, includes many strands playing different roles. Statewide organizations of superintendents, school board members and teachers spread information to their members across the state. Civic groups like the Parents Legislative Advocacy Committee, the PTA, and Voice effectively educate parents and bring them to the Capitol to lobby their legislators.

This year, these advocates showed their organizing muscle by mobilizing 25,000 Oklahomans for a rally at the Capitol. They showed their political muscle by defeating legislation to expand charter schools and getting the Legislature to override the governor’s veto of a bill to give parents and educators more control over retention of third-graders. And of course they delivered their knockout blow to Barresi in June.

When I started this blog in 2012, it was never my intent to focus so much on one individual. I’m still more pro-public education than I am anti-Barresi. In most political races, I have no desire to endorse candidates. When I’m not blogging, I’m quite free with my political views – much to the chagrin of family, friends, and colleagues. On the blog, however, I don’t think I need to endorse candidates. I’m not a newspaper with an editorial board. I’m an individual with strong views about my profession and the children we serve. On the other hand, when the preponderance of evidence shows – as it has with Janet Barresi – that a public official has actively harmed public education, I have no problem stating the case that we should elect someone else.

At the same time, I’m not a single-issue voter. Public education is probably the biggest focus I have when it comes to state politics, and with the state superintendent’s race, it’s an easy focus to maintain. With our legislators and governor, however, we have to ask ourselves how much our passion for public education matters when we look at the big picture. When I ask myself, “Is Mary Fallin the best possible governor for Oklahoma,” the analysis is much more complicated than one issue.

Over the next few months, I will occasionally break down the race between Democrat challenger Joe Dorman and Fallin. Today though, I want to start with yesterday’s news that Fallin and Joy Hofmeister – the Republican who ousted Barresi – have pledged support for each other in this November’s elections.

“Joy Hofmeister is a teacher, small business owner and a mother who cares deeply about public education in Oklahoma, which is why I was proud to appoint her to the Oklahoma State Board of Education. I know Joy will work tirelessly to unite parents, teachers, employers and lawmakers as we work to support and improve our schools. I am proud to support her in her race for superintendent.” – Governor Mary Fallin

“Governor Fallin has always said that improving education is the most important thing we can do to support the long term growth and prosperity of our state. She should be applauded for highlighting the importance of public education, not just in the individual growth of our students, but for Oklahoma’s long term economic well-being. I encourage Oklahomans to get behind Governor Fallin to ensure we have a pro-education governor for the next four years.” – Joy Hofmeister

These are both very nice statements, but as many in the print media and social media have noted over the last few weeks, Fallin has actively distanced herself from Barresi. I noticed this late last fall when the state superintendent always seemed to mention the governor’s name, but with no reciprocity. It’s clear that attaching herself to Barresi’s toxic personality would not benefit Fallin politically. Surrounded by many astute handlers, the governor kept putting more space between the two of them.

While Mary Fallin may not be tight with Janet Barresi anymore, however, their education policies remain intertwined. As chairperson of the National Governor’s Association, Fallin has pushed strongly for the Common Core. She opposed HB 2625 which gave parents a voice in the retention decision of third-graders – in lock-step with Barresi, who called the Legislature’s override of Fallin’s veto pathetic and outrageous.

By the way, it was after that override (by a combined 124-19 margin) that I realized the power of the #oklaed movement. Apparently Fallin did too. She flipped her support for the Common Core into a signature of HB 3399, which eliminated it in Oklahoma (a change of heart that could have major unintended consequences in terms of increased federal oversight). Even her campaign website still proclaims her love of all things Common Core.

Fallin Website

Though Fallin received good press after speaking to the state PTA last week for backing off the third-grade reading test, her actual words do not show much of a change. And her website still shows she supports high-stakes testing for eight- and nine-year olds. Here’s how Rob Miller explained it.

In her prepared remarks to the PTA delegates, Governor Fallin said, “If we can get to a system where we are measuring a student throughout the progress of their education versus one test — one high-stakes test — we are better serving the children.”

As you recall, just two months ago the Governor made waves with her controversial veto of House Bill 2625. This legislation allows districts to implement “probationary promotion” by incorporating a committee of school personnel and parents in making final determinations on student retention. Her veto came despite the fact that the bill was passed by large majorities in both the Oklahoma House and Senate. At the time, the Governor was adamant that the RSA law should remain unaltered, saying HB2625 “returns us to a system that has failed Oklahoma children for decades.” Despite her strong objectives, the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to override Fallin’s veto.

The “thump thump” sound you may have heard later in the Governor’s remarks was the sound of Superintendent Janet Barresi being thrown under the bus.

This happened when Governor Fallin remarked that testing accommodations should be restored for children in special education or English language learners. This year, all students but the most severely disabled were required to take the same standardized tests as their peers despite their disabilities.

When asked to clarify her remarks on special education students, Fallin said she always felt they should be accommodated and attributed the current Education Department policy to State Superintendent Janet Barresi.

“That’s been her position. Now I’m telling you what my position is as governor. The superintendent is an independently elected official. She has her ideas. I have my ideas,” Fallin said.

Thump thump!

She also still supports the A-F Report Cards and Value Added Measurements for teachers. These are positions far more insidious than the Common Core. I don’t care what standards are in place; if we insist on using flawed tests (or any tests, for that matter) to measure teacher quality and make critical decisions for students, our path is sorely misguided. Fallin is part of the reason that we will have to remain vigilant against the expansion of charter schools and voucher programs. She has done even less than Barresi to restore funding to public education.

In the end, I don’t know how much the other issues impacting our state matter to you. I’m not a straight-party voter, and some of the things I support would probably surprise you. When I consider the state of public education in Oklahoma, though, I cannot in good conscience support Mary Fallin. She has damaged public education. Sure, I understand that these two Republicans supporting each other is a political thing. I am also pretty sure it helps Fallin a lot more than it does Hofmeister. Yes, Joy would work well with Fallin, but based on my own meetings with her, I think she’d work pretty decently with Dorman too. Besides, there are two other state superintendent candidates, and once they sort out their own differences, Hofmeister will have to demonstrate why she is better than the one who remains. Oklahoma may be the reddest state in the country, but that doesn’t mean we vote with our eyes closed.

I want a governor who supports public education. Since we can’t bring back Henry Bellmon, I’m looking for the one who is close.

HB1017signing

Seven Candidates for State Superintendent

April 11, 2014 9 comments

Let the fun officially begin! As of 5:00 this evening, the candidate filing period for 2014 has closed. It appears we will have seven people running for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. According to the forms they filed with the state election commission, they are:

You can click the links above to learn more about each candidate from his or her own website. With three or more individuals in each party’s primary, it is important to note all three election dates. The primary will be held June 24, 2014. In the case a run-off is needed, it will be August 26. The general election will be November 4.

Keeping track of candidates over the last three days has only been part of my curiosity. I assume that most of my readers have never run for public office before. I wanted to see what the process looks like, so I downloaded a copy of the 2014 Filing Packet.

First off, each candidate had to pay a filing fee of $500, unless they presented a petition for candidacy that has been signed by four percent of registered voters. Second, each state office has specific requirements for candidates. Here’s a general overview for state offices.

No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor and Inspector, Attorney General, State Treasurer or Superintendent of Public Instruction except a citizen of the United States of the age of not less than thirty-one (31) years and who shall have been ten (10) years next preceding his or her election, or appointment, a qualified elector of this state. (Article 6, Section 3, Oklahoma Constitution)

Some offices have additional requirements.

State Auditor and Inspector

The State Auditor and Inspector must have had at least three years’ experience as an expert accountant.

Insurance Commissioner

The Insurance Commissioner of the State of Oklahoma shall … have had at least five (5) years’ experience in the insurance industry in administration, sales, servicing or regulation.

District Attorney

Any person, otherwise qualified, who has been a resident of the state for two (2) years, a registered voter in the district and a resident residing within such district for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the filing period, a duly licensed attorney for at least five (5) years, and at least twenty-eight (28) years of age, prior to the date of filing for the office, shall be eligible to hold the office of district attorney.

District Judge and Associate District Judge

Each District Judge shall have had prior to election or appointment, a minimum of four years’ experience as a licensed practicing attorney, or as a judge of a court of record, or both, within the State of Oklahoma.

That’s it – nothing for Attorney General, State Treasurer, or Superintendent of Public Instruction. You have to have experience in law to be a DA, but not to be the AG. Bizarre. You just have to be 31.

Most of the Oklahoma education community has lamented over these last three years the fact that our state’s education system is being run by an amateur who takes her marching orders from Jeb Bush and ALEC. Many of us would like to see some sort of professional prerequisites for this office as well. While we are fortunate to have an Attorney General and a State Treasurer with relevant professional experience, nothing in the Oklahoma Constitution or anywhere in state statute mandates that. In theory, we could eventually get dentists running both of those agencies at some point as well – maybe even teachers!

In all seriousness, this field has been taking shape since August. I’m a little surprised we didn’t have another candidate or two. Oklahomans (not just educators) are beyond frustrated with the incumbent and legislature for their ongoing disrespect. Throw the governor in there too; she hasn’t done public schools or the children they serve any favors.

My hope is that concerned voters will research ALL of the candidates. These people have done something in putting their names on the ballot that most of us will never do. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a strong working knowledge of four of these people and their positions on the issues that matter to me. Now I need to learn more about the other three.

We have 74 days until the primary, and a lot of work to do.

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