January 12, 2014

Democratic state superintendent candidates face off at CVTC

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star


Two state superintendent candidates, Freda Deskin and Donna Anderson, spoke at the Grady County Democratic Party meeting at the Canadian Valley Technology Center on Jan. 9. 

Deskin said she has had 42 years of experience in the education system. 

Deskin said that she wanted to be a pilot like her father until her sixth grade teacher made an impression on her. 

"Because education gave me a way up and out, I've dedicated my life to giving children a way up and out," Deskin said. 

Deskin said she has taught in different sized schools, from rural schools to larger city schools in Oklahoma. 

Deskin said that she had not considered being a political figure until an acquaintance told her that "Education should not be a red or blue issue."

Deskin said she was concerned because there are candidates who have never taught or taught more than 25 years ago. Education has changed a lot, Deskin said, for both teachers and students during this time period. Teachers have a lot more time-consuming paperwork and students are over-tested. 

Deskin also addressed the teacher shortage in Oklahoma. In one case in an Oklahoma City school, Deskin said two classes had to combine, making a 78-student class. 

Deskin offered reasons that many teachers do not stay in Oklahoma. 

Teachers graduate with a $36,000 debt for a $33,000 a year job, Deskin said. While teachers do get paid summers off, Deskin said that most teachers spend that time trying to improve their teaching via classes and reading as well as planning their upcoming year. 

Deskin said if she is elected state superintendent, she plans to collaborate with educators and have an open door, something she said is not being practiced now. 

Anderson is currently the superintendent of Bennington Public Schools, a rural school. 

Anderson has been an educator for more than 20 years. She said the different positions she has held, from teacher to principal, to superintendent, have helped her to understand the various aspects of the Oklahoma education system. 

She addressed her concerns with the increase in charter schools and the diminishing education budget as well as the problems with Common Core.

Anderson said she would like to see more funding going into schools that are already here rather than charter schools. She also discussed more funding going to programs such as the special education program. 

"These children need services and they're going to be provided services," she said. 

Currently there is not an advocate at the state level for special education, Anderson said. This is something she would like to see changed. 

Anderson criticized Common Core and its implementation. She said that through studying child development, she has found that Common Core is not developmentally correct for kindergartners and first graders. 

"What it does is create an atmosphere where children do not want to go to school," Anderson said. Anderson criticized the A-F formula, although her school received a B. 

Too many people who do not understand education are making too many decisions, Anderson said. She added that she wants to see more action taken, rather than just promises made.