Candidates For State Superintendent Debate At Tulsa Service Center

Tuesday, October 21st 2014, 1:13 pm

It's two weeks from election day and one of the most watched state elections is for school superintendent.

The two candidates in the race are working to make sure voters know where they stand, with debates all over the state.

The biggest distinction they made Tuesday was on experience, in and out of the classroom, and as someone who can oversee a big department that's been swamped with controversy for several years.

The candidates talked about experience in front of a group with a lot of it.

The Retired Teachers Association wanted to hear what the candidates would do for them, with their pensions and cost of living increases.

Otherwise, the group has the same concerns as other people - school funding, school quality and accountability.

"This nonsense testing we're doing doesn't make sense for anything," sand Democratic candidate, John Cox.

Cox wants a moratorium on testing; while Republican candidate Joy Hofmeister said that's impossible, but it does need an overhaul.

"Let's try to get it right the first time and not put our kids through the trauma, stress and waste of their valuable educational time," she said.

The group listened and seemed to approve of some of Hofmeister's points, but has already endorsed Cox for the job.

"And that is based on our study of the issues based on where they are, but I'm serious about this, Oklahoma will be the winner regardless because we desperately need a new superintendent of instruction," said Elaine Dodd with the Retired Teachers Association.

Cox praised Hofmeister for defeating Janet Barresi, but contrasted his experience inside schools with her background in business with a tutoring company.

"To really understand the reforms brought into the state, and how they impact a child, it's important to be a school superintendent and educator to see what's happening right now, to be able to make decisions,” he said.

Hofmeister was critical of his small town experience, saying it wasn't enough to run a state agency with political influence.

“We need leadership, an experienced advocate at the state capitol who can make recommendations and get traction on issues at the state capitol,” said Hofmeister.

There's another debate next Tuesday at OSU Tulsa.

Meanwhile, the current state superintendent announced she's asked for another federal waiver of school standards.

That had been in question after the repeal of Common Core, but now the state has a temporary plan while new standards are being written.