State House, Senate Candidates Answer Questions At Education Forum

Tuesday, October 9th 2012, 10:51 pm
By: News On 6

Candidates for the Oklahoma State Legislature debated education night Tuesday night.

It's a hot topic, especially after the State Board of Education delayed releasing grades that would give every school in Oklahoma an "A" through "F" assessment.

Even competing candidates can agree that Oklahoma education needs drastic improvements, and they say the formula for scoring schools isn't the answer.

A dozen Tulsa area State House and Senate candidates answered parents' questions about education at a special forum Tuesday.

Republican candidate Katie Henke is a teacher, so education is near and dear to her heart.

"If you have a grading system that is not accurate, how can we put that out there for parents to take as fact?" Henke said.

10/8/2012 Related Story: A-F Grades: State Board Votes To Delay Release Of School Grades

Democratic candidate Dan Arthrell said he is committed to promoting education through a fair system.

"If we're going to be announcing grades, they should be on the same scale that we announce grades for students in the schools," Arthrell said.

Both Henke and Arthrell give the State Board of Education an "A" for holding off releasing the grades.

Since the two agree that the current school grading system is wrong, what's a better way to hold schools and teachers accountable for how they're doing?

"We're not afraid of reform. We just need to make sure that it's accurate and truthful, and so taking the time to not just put a band-aid on something, but making sure it's going to actually benefit the school and the students," Henke said.

"The answer is it's all about the kids. What does it take for our kids to be well educated, to be ready for the workforce, to move on for higher education?" Arthrell said.

Both candidates said they believe education should also get more funding to help teachers meet all the state requirements.

"I know, as a school teacher myself, that it is vital to have the resources in the classroom that teachers need," Henke said.

"The rubber meets the road with the teachers," Arthrell said. "That's where our big investment should be."

Both candidates also said there should be a collaborative effort between the board of education and superintendents to come up with a more accurate way of grading schools.