ROPE Endorses Dr. John Cox for State Superintendent
Every election since 2010, ROPE has announced support for a State Superintendent candidate. We believe this position to be of paramount importance in the direction of education in our state. This year is no different.
Four Republican candidates are vying for the State Superintendent’s chair: Bill Crozier, April Grace, Dr. John Cox and Secretary of Education Ryan Walters. ROPE held a candidate forum at Randall University on May 9th. Mr. Crozier was unable to attend and April Grace backed out of her original commitment to appear.
WHY ROPE DOES NOT SUPPORT DR. APRIL GRACE
April Grace, Superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools, is under fire for allowing an alleged sexual predator to stay on the SPS staff. In addition, her ethics filings find that her campaign is supported by American Fidelity Corp PAC, CCOSA administration, Former State Board Member Leo Baxter and Mid-Del Superintendent Rick Cobb, to name a few. These are EXTREMELY concerning.
Let’s not forget that American Fidelity, CCOSA and others were accused of conspiring with current Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister on a dark money PAC for her initial election. Baxter and other State School Board members sued to stop the repeal of Common Core and, during the Oklahoma Standards re-write, spent significant time online lobbing verbal fireballs at any of us who dared to review the standards negatively. In fact, there was an entire group of educators – including Rick Cobb – who fought any criticism of the standards during the re-write. Anyone supported by a group of people so dedicated to the status quo and so hateful to others, need not be elected to statewide office.
Bill is a very nice man – and a very interesting person – but, unfortunately, ROPE did not see him as a viable candidate in this race.
OUR TOP TWO CANDIDATES – Secretary Walters and Dr. Cox – WHY WE ENDORSED DR. COX
The ROPE Board interviewed both Secretary Ryan Walters and Dr. John Cox several weeks after our Superintendent Forum. They were very kind to take time with us – Dr. Cox via internet and Secretary Walters in person.
From our interviews and Superintendent’s forum, it’s abundantly clear both candidates love kids and are committed to pushing back against the educational status quo that so often inhibits parents from educating their children the way they see fit, but there are some divisions.
ROPE has numerous concerns about the expansion of a voucher system in our state and fought vigorously to defeat SB1647 (2022) – the bill creating a voucher system for private schools. Dr. Cox does not agree with implementation of a voucher system in Oklahoma. Secretary Walters does.
Though we also agree with Secretary Walters on many policy issues, he does not yet have the experience Dr. Cox has accumulated. As Superintendent of Pegs School district for 28 years, Dr. Cox understands the difficulties imposed on educators – and superintendents – by unwieldy and burdensome state laws and federal programming, many of which negatively impact parental rights.
Recently, Dr. Cox stood up for the innocence of his students by telling a health official he would only give the CDC’s incredibly invasive, Youth Risk Behavioral Survey if he could send it home for parents to read. He never received a return phone call asking the survey be administered.
History also plays a part. Many of our Board remember Dr. Cox standing in solidarity with us and parents against Common Core – one of very few Superintendents who did. We have witnessed him standing with parents and expect him to continue to do so.
We appreciate Secretary Walters very much for running and we hope – no matter who wins the State Superintendent Chair – to work with both candidates in whatever capacity they find themselves.
Jenni White, ROPE President