Democrat Jena Nelson said teacher “leakage”, student mental health and public funding are three priorities in her run for state superintendent of public education.
Porum resident Wanda Smith told Nelson to focus on the education program as well.
Nelson, Oklahoma’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, spoke at a Muskogee County Democratic Party meeting Thursday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. She runs against Ryan Walters, who won the GOP runoff earlier this week.
When asked his opinion on HB 1775, which prohibits schools or teachers from teaching that one race or gender is inherently superior to another or is racist, sexist or oppressive.
Nelson said the state must “make sure history is taught properly.”
“I will mention this, that regardless of the next state superintendent, social studies standards will be reviewed over the next two years,” she said. “And whoever is the superintendent of the state will decide what your children learn about history. So things could be taken away, like tribal sovereignty, black history, women’s rights. There has so many reasons why this breed is so important on a curriculum level, on a teacher level.”
Smith agreed with Nelson’s assessment.
“What you just said is something you need to talk about a lot because most of us regular people don’t know it’s going to happen in that time frame,” Smith said.
Nelson said that now that the GOP runoff is over, she “talks about it a lot.”
“I’m going to keep talking about it, because it’s not just that (the story),” she said. “We have English standards. What can they read? What can’t they read? We have to have common sense.”
Walters, who has based her campaign on school choice and fighting “leftist indoctrination,” defeated Shawnee School Superintendent April Grace in the GOP runoff.
Asked about her lack of school administrator certification, Nelson cited her experience in corporate health care, small business and real estate as evidence of her management skills.
“I have political skills,” she said. “As State Teacher of the Year, I worked nationally with other State Teachers of the Year. I met several times with the United States Secretary of Education, Cardona I have connections in education across the country We need to have a teacher with boots on the ground and boots across the country who can see what the big picture is and what we should be doing to achieve this. “
She said she also helped write programs at the state level.
Nelson, a graduate of Broken Bow High School, said she was a proud product of rural education. She said school vouchers offered for private education could cripple rural schools.
His response to stopping the “teacher flight” is to pay teachers “like professionals”.
“This week I heard from people all over the state,” she said. “And I want to tell you all that hope is greater than fear.”