McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

March 26, 2014

Visiting schools in 77 counties: Democrat state superintendent candidate Holmes stops in Enid

ENID, Okla. — Ivan Holmes, Democratic candidate Oklahoma state superintendent of public instruction, made a stop in Enid Wednesday as part of a 77-county visit to communities and school superintendents.

On Wednesday, he visited with superintendents at Deer Creek-Lamont, Billings, Garber and Kremlin-Hillsdale, Holmes said.

Holmes said the current superintendent of public education, Janet Barresi, has alienated school superintendents throughout the state.

“I have visited 309 school superintendents, and I don’t know how one person could alienate nearly 500 people,” Holmes said.

Holmes said a third of those superintendents have told him if they must make any further budget cuts, their school district will be out of business.

Holmes made no bones about his opposition to current trends in public education in Oklahoma.

“It’s time for Oklahoma educators to take back its public schools and stop the influx of outside interest groups from discrediting and dismantling our public school system,” Holmes said.

Holmes believes public schools are under attack from groups such as American Legislative Exchange Council and the State Chamber. There is a national movement under way that is trying to destroy the credibility of public education so charter schools can take their place, Holmes said.

“If they have their way, all public schools would become charter schools and the public education system we have today would be gone tomorrow,” Holmes said. “Parents are being told that public schools are failing their children, that teachers are bad, that we need to fire teachers and start over with charter schools.”

Holmes said his top campaign issue will be adequate funding for Oklahoma’s public schools.

“When Oklahoma ranks 49th in funding education, and total budget appropriations sink to an all-time low from 38.2 percent to 33.8 percent, and educators are faced with teaching 40,000 more students with 200 million fewer dollars, something is wrong,” Holmes said.

Holmes said another priority in his campaign is to put education back in the hands of teachers and school administrators, who actually work with students every day.

“Under the current state superintendent, teachers, school administrators and school board members are completely ignored and left out of the loop,” Holmes said. “I am in favor of professional educators making important decisions on education issues, including when a student is qualified to move on to the next level.”

Holmes, a former Oklahoma Democratic Party chairman, said the next state superintendent must have the ability to challenge and take on the present system.

Asked if a Democrat can win a statewide office in the current political climate, Holmes’ answer was to-the-point.

“Timing is everything in politics,” Holmes said. “I don’t think this is Republican this time.”

If it were up to him, he’d rebuild public education from the bottom up.

“I’d put all my money to the first to third grades, and I would not let any child out of first grade if he could not read,” Holmes said.

Holmes was born in Edmond and graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and education and a master’s degree in school administration. He later obtained a doctorate of education in journalism and school administration from Tulsa University.

He spent more than 40 years teaching at the high school, college and university level.

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