All four Democratic candidates seeking nomination for the office of Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction will face off at a discussion and debate Monday, April 7, in the Main Street Conference Room of the First Texoma National Bank in Durant. The debate will begin at 6 p.m.
The candidates are Dr. Ivan Holmes, Dr. Freda Deskin, Dr. Jack Herron, and Dr. John Cox. Donna Anderson, Superintendent of Bennington Public Schools, who was a candidate, dropped out of the race for the nomination in January for health reasons.
The four remaining candidates share many similarities. All have doctorates in education fields and long experience in teaching and administration. And all share strong disapproval of the Republican agenda of privatizing education and of the present Superintendent, Janet Baressi.
Democrats generally defend public education as the fundamental force in making the United States great.
“Our nation’s public schools are at the foundation of our democracy,” said Marilyn Alexander, Chair of the Democratic Party of Bryan County (DPBC). “Public funding of charter schools, private schools and vouchers will divert tax revenue away from public schools.”
Whereas many citizens point to weaknesses in the present system, Democrats generally hold to the position that rather than replacing it with charter schools, the state should put all funds and efforts into improving public education. Deskin, however, works with publicly-funded charter schools in Oklahoma City and is expected to discuss her position during the Durant debate.
The four candidates are critical of Janet Baressi, who is not a professional educator. She is a dentist who has less educational training than the Democratic candidates and whose only educational experience is founding two Oklahoma City charter schools.
Noting their similarities, the debate moderator, Matt Sandmann, DPBC Vice-Chair, will be seeking to get the four candidates to distinguish themselves one from another.
Light refreshments will be provided. The discussion and debate is sponsored by the Democratic Party of Bryan County, but the event is open to all interested citizens. Admission is free.
“We especially encourage public-school teachers and administrators to attend,” Alexander said. Noting that the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is one of the most important in the state—and that the preservation of our public schools is vital for keeping our democracy strong, she emphasizes, “Public school funding is in jeopardy in Oklahoma.”