Blanchard Superintendent: Dr. John Cox was the conservative in Democratic primary

To The Editor:

I’m not a political analyst. As a matter of fact, I only had one political science course while working on my teaching degree at O.S.U. – but I’ll take a shot at analyzing the democratic primary run-off for State Superintendent of Schools.

The race was a land-slide victory for Dr. John Cox, as he handily defeated Dr. Freda Deskin – garnering 63% of the vote to Deskin’s 37%. The question is: how did he do it? Especially since Deskin was predicted to win by most political pundits. She had the support of many high-profile and well-known Oklahomans including Brad and Kim Henry, Barry Switzer, and Harold Hamm while Cox only had the support of no-name public educators. She collected and spent more campaign money in her bid for the nomination, had more education experience (since she headed a charter school), and had better name-recognition than Cox. All these advantages provided the rationale for the analysts’ predictions of a Deskin victory.

Oh yes, and she was also billed as the “school choice” candidate, which certainly should have “sealed the deal” – but it didn’t, and here’s why:

Wikipedia defines conservatism as a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional social institutions. Categories of conservatism include constitutional, religious, fiscal, and social. Most Oklahomans and educators in particular view themselves as politically conservative in at least one of the categories. Oklahomans in general do not describe themselves as liberal, or progressive for fear of being labeled non-religious, pro-choice as opposed to pro-life, anti-constitutional, or anti-public education (definitively).

John Cox is conservative in most categories, but most assuredly in public education, while Freda Deskin is probably conservative in all categories, except one -- education. In order to be educationally conservative one must believe in the traditional education institution – brick and mortar public schools and public school students. This is where Deskin was identified, rightly or wrongly, as a liberal, progressive educator.

You see, Freda Deskin was/is the head of a “charter school” in Oklahoma. A charter school is a public school in only one way – it receives public funding in order to operate. It is a private school in that it is owned by a private business or non-profit foundation, sometimes in-state, sometimes out-of-state, and only accepts a select number of students. “School choice” advocates support charter schools as well as religious based private schools, non-secular private schools, virtual private schools, and virtual charter schools. Many self-proclaimed school choice advocates, however, only support the funneling of public funds (tax dollars) to these privately run institutions.

Most public educators believe students should have school choice, but that public funding for private schools is unconstitutional and certainly unaffordable for the Oklahoma taxpayers. Many lawmakers, however, believe that private acquisition of tax dollars should be the norm, as evidenced in recently proposed legislation.

Most conservative Oklahomans believe, on the other hand, that public funding should only be used to support traditional public schools and students. They also know that public funding of any private, virtual, or charter school is both liberal and progressive and that the public funding of religious private schools is unconstitutional.

In addition, conservatives believe in frugal government spending and low taxation and know the unneeded increase in government-funded institutions (disguised as “school choice”) will most certainly result in more government spending and higher taxation.

It’s really very simple – John Cox was billed as the “conservative” state superintendent candidate and Freda Deskin was described as the “liberal” candidate, so the choice was a no-brainer for most voters. Only time will tell if Cox will continue “Sherman’s March to the Sea” and capture the state superintendent’s post in November, but if he continues to convince voters he is the “conservative” candidate, he will.

Sincerely, Jim Beckham, Blanchard



EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Beckham, Ph.D., is Superintendent of Schools in Blanchard, Oklahoma. 


Jim Beckham

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