What We Believe


Every school district across the state of Oklahoma is unique and deserves to be recognized that each district has the knowledge to maintain, improve, and enhance the educational experience for each and every child within that district.

Questionnaire: Oklahoma Education Voters
Dr. John Cox, Superintendent

1. School Funding: We do not adequately fund our Oklahoma Public Schools! As superintendents, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. As the state cuts our funding, we fix it, then they cut us more and we fix it. We are at a point of time now that we cannot cut anymore. Because we have cut funding at the #1 rate in the Nation, its results includes larger class size and less teachers and takes away from meeting the needs of the individual student. We should and must restore our school funding to the pre-2008 level to take care of increasing operational costs, increased health insurance and retirement costs, and to improve teacher pay. As state superintendent, it is my job to advocate for more funding and to focus our state superintendent activity budget towards helping and serving our public schools.

2. High Stakes Testing: We test too much! We need to remove the high stakes nature of state testing and return to taking care of the individual student instead of focusing on a test score. I will streamline our testing to mathematics and reading since those are federal requirements, allow districts to assess the other disciplines such as social studies and science, and take our special needs students out of the regular testing and allow districts to use an assessment that can truly measure the growth of each individual special needs student. We use inappropriate tests for this population of students. Further, we need to utilize our time with the children who have the most severe disabilities by providing life skills training instead of filming them over and over until they complete a task and then sending the video in to a stranger at the SDE for their approval and grading. We need to give our teachers back their classroom and allow them to teach to the individual needs of each student instead of focusing the curriculum to passing a test.

3. State Politics of Interference: I have worked very hard over the past several years to network with educators across the state and build a trust between us. It is so important that we have the flexibility to meet the individual and different needs of each child and work with parents to find the interests and learning needs of their child. I believe that local control is so important, because the parent, teacher, and principal are closest to the child and are able to make proper decisions concerning the student. I also believe that school districts (school board, parents, administrators, and teachers) should make the decision on how to best educate each child instead of national education agendas being pushed on the local districts. Our schools across the state are so distinct from each other that a cookie-cutter approach does not and will not work to improve schools.

4. Respect for and support of Public Education: I believe there is an agenda to make public schools look bad and then we will be saved by out-of-state consultants and companies. This agenda is about making money and spending our valuable resources on remediation programs, curriculum, and more testing. As state superintendent, it is my job to be the advocate for public schools and show the public that we are doing a great job as public schools and that we are always looking to improve public education. To increase respect for public education, we must trust, value, and honor our teachers and allow them to do what they do best, and that is to teach! It is also important to be proficient in public relations and coordinate what we teach to meet the needs and interests of students, but also train students and prepare them to be ready to enter the workforce upon completion of high school. We must align high school standards to correlate with real work experiences and not depend on EOI testing to be the determining factor that students are prepared with a skill.

5. Common Core: I do not support common core. I will have teachers at each grade level and discipline develop our standards/objectives at the same or higher rigor as other states and this will create buy-in across the state and we will be able to use our professional development that we have already spent millions of dollars on to implement these standards.

Class Size: The larger the class, the less individual attention a student will receive. We must advocate for more funds to reduce class size so that we can better meet the needs of individual students.

Current State Superintendent: That has been taken care of.

Curriculum: We can rely on the expertise of Oklahoma teachers to build our curriculum/standards and implement them across the state.

Health & Child Development: We must take our focus away from testing and work towards meeting the needs of our students. Physical education and play, and arts and creative exercise are essential to building young minds, not only concentrating on exercise, but the social and psychological needs of students through group play and competition, and inspiring young people to be creative.

Local Control: Local Districts (School Boards, Parents, Teachers, Administrators, and community members) know what is best to meet the needs of their students. We should not use a national cookie-cutter approach to educating a child. It does not work.

Mandates: We should not pass a mandate unless it is fully funded and only if it is a mandate that has been proven to improve student performance.

National Reform Efforts: We should look at the local needs of our students while giving opportunity for our students to be successful anywhere they desire to live. Local improvement effort is a better way to look at improving public schools. The current national reform efforts are an attempt to privatize our public schools and take much needed resources away from our public schools.

Parent Rights: The parent and child is the customer of the public schools. There would be no school if there were no students. As a superintendent, we should always respect the rights and opinions of our parents and work to meet the needs of their child.

Poverty: I believe that we must meet the basic needs of children before they can learn at an optimum level. Although we do not allow for excuses of our children that live in poverty, we must be realistic and understand the roadblocks that must be removed in order for them to learn and be successful.

Privatization: I believe privatization of our public schools is a national agenda that will take away precious resources from our public schools. We should fully fund public schools and take care of the approximately 95% of our Oklahoma students that attend public schools before we give our money away to other avenues of education.

Special Education Issues: Because of testing requirements, we do not treat our special needs students appropriately. We give them tests that do not measure their growth and set them up for failure. Although this population has such a wide array of learning situations, we need to gear growth and assessments to each individual’s IEP and measure his/her performance to the IEP.

TLE Teacher Evaluation: Although I do not have major concerns with the qualitative (observations) portion of the evaluation, I do not agree with the value added model and putting student test scores on a teacher’s evaluation. There are so many things wrong with adding student data to a teacher’s evaluation, and one is that we truly do not have control of the performance of a particular student on a specific day. The evaluation of the teacher should always stay in the district that employs the teacher and not on a state-wide database for the SDE to monitor.

Teacher Recruitment and Retention: To retain quality teachers and entice new recruits, we must first value and support our teachers. We must also provide a wage that is honorable to our profession. Our teachers should not live in poverty and struggle to pay bills. As state superintendent, it is my job to advocate for our teachers and provide an environment that is conducive to learning and give teachers back their classrooms.

Teacher Salary: The minimum salary (1st year) should be above $35,000 a year and no less. Our teachers should not live in poverty and should not have to struggle paying their bills. It is my job as state superintendent to fight for increased teacher’s pay. Also, it is my job to protect our teacher’s retirement system and not allow the state to consolidate the pension systems so that the other systems can feed off of our system. I do not believe that offering a 401K plan to our new teachers instead of using the stable retirement plan we currently use, would be a wise decision.