Race For State Superintendent Continues To Heat Up

Thursday, June 12th 2014, 11:06 pm
By: Tess Maune

The heat cranked up on an already fiery campaign to lead Oklahoma schools. Two candidates for State Superintendent faced off Thursday night in south Tulsa, and even the school-kids were grilling the candidates.

There was definitely a tension in the room as both candidates pushed for parent involvement, and accountability.

Teachers, parents, grandparents even students all lined up for answers.

"I'm a 5th grader and I tested for two weeks," one student said. "I was also tested with a computer. I didn't hear how you will decrease testing."

"As a fifth grader you would not have taken those tests online, so perhaps those were tests given by your school district and decided on by your school district locally," said State Superintendent Janet Barresi.

State Superintendent Candidate, Joy Hofmeister said, "I'm sorry that you spent that much time not learning. If you're testing, you're not learning."

The crowd controlled the conversation entirely with their questions to Barresi and Hofmeister. Their biggest concern was the repeal of Common Core and how to replace the standards.

"That's not the only way to teach or to set standards, but it is important that we work with experts at setting standards, and we include the community, activists on Common Core who have spent many years studying and want to be a part of that process, need to be part of that," Hofmeister said.

Barresi said, "This is one where we're asking Oklahomans to call the department and ask to be a part of this, you can be involved as much as you want or as little as you want."

Pumping money into the classroom was also a priority. Both candidates agree funding should go to the children, not administration.

Then, the sparks began to fly when the topic of a nasty and personal campaign was brought up.

"We have documentation of everything we're talking about. This is an individual that says one thing to the public and does another thing behind closed doors, and it's really important that we trust our public officials to say what they mean and mean what they say," Barresi said.

"It's despicable and it's hard to be a mom of a child of with a disability and have someone try to impugn your reputation, or say that you don't somehow support students with special needs when that has been my career and my focus has been advocating for those students," said Hofmeister.

The women also talked about high stakes testing and the technology trouble schools have faced the past two years.

Hofmeister said she would like to see less testing, and Barresi said she will recommend discontinuing the contract with the testing vendor.