Editor’s Note: OKGrassroots will be releasing a feature series on Education Policy and the recent Election Cycle in Oklahoma. We will take time to explore ideological differences and how those are playing out in – not only the political realm – but the public square as well as we publish information we have collected on the ‘Teacher Caucus’. Not everyone in politics tells the truth. Not all sources are reliable. Do your own homework. Follow the money. OKGrassroots hopes these articles will help people to connect the dots and make informed choices at the ballot box. Decisions are still being made in run-offs around the state./sc
Here is article #1: 2016 Oklahoma “Teacher Caucus” Highlights, Parties, Ideals and Education Goals.
This is the second article in our feature series on OKGrassroots:
#2 Are Oklahoma’s “Education Caucus” Victories as Large as Reported?
Numerous Oklahoma media vaunted the large numbers of educators running for public office in the 2016 primary elections. An equally large number of Oklahoma media touted the results of these elections using a wide variety of calculations to identify their successes.
A “Teacher Caucus” (TC) ‘voter guide’ published on the Oklahomans for Public Education (OPE) Facebook page generated a great deal of media, as did the subsequent guide published following the conclusion of the primary races.
The OPE/TC list uses two symbols – an apple and a triangle with an exclamation point in it to identify candidates; an apple designates “Pro Public Education” candidates, and a triangle designates a candidate as “Not Supportive of Public Ed”. There is nothing on the OPE list that explains how the ‘apple’ and ‘triangle’ candidates were determined, it is simply a list of candidates in their districts with their political designations with no symbol at all, an apple or a triangle.
Claudia Swisher, former public school teacher and an Oklahomans For Public Education (OPE) Board Member, created a list on her blog, “Educators and Family Running…” for both House and Senate. This list identifies 26 education-associated candidates in Senate races: 17 K-12 teachers, 1 higher ed, 6 with family associations to teachers and a school board member: and 52 in the House: 32 K-12 teachers, 7 higher ed, 9 with family associations to teachers, 2 school board members and one former educator. Swisher acknowledges her position on the OPE Board and says of the “Teacher Caucus” list, “This list endorses some educators and some non-educators. Its purpose is different from my list.”
After comparing both Swisher’s “Teacher” (T) voter guide with the “Teacher Caucus” (TC) voter guide and entering data from both, we found some interesting results.
In the Senate, the TC identified 34 candidates (37% of all senatorial candidates). When compared with the Teacher list, only 20 (22% of the total number of senatorial candidates) of all TC candidates were associated with the teaching profession in some way. Of these, 11 were Democrats and 9 Republicans. The winning TC candidates (10; 7 Democrat and 3 Republican) were the same as the number of TC candidates in uncontested races (all uncontested races but 1 Independent were Democrat). Comparison of the TC guide to the T guide identified 14 candidates who were neither educators nor associated with the education profession.
Comparing the Teacher guide with the TC guide found that 6 Candidates identified by the Teacher guide were not marked with Apples (Dwayne Pemberton R9, Kevin Crow R23, Brian Jackson R37, Paul Scott R43, Mike Mason R45, Don Sherry D47). Pemberton and Scott won; all others lost
The TC guide identified 16 candidates – all Republican – with triangles. Of these, 5 won their races, 11 lost, 6 will be in run-off elections and 1 was an uncontested race.
Of interest, Dr. Kevin Crow, a history professor in higher education was marked with a triangle.
In the House, the TC identified 83 candidates (33% of all house candidates). When compared with the Teacher list, only 36 of those (14% of total house candidates) were associated with the teaching profession in some way. Of these, 19 were Democrats, 12 Republicans and 1 Independent. The winning TC candidates (24; 14 Democrats, 10 Republicans) were almost half as many as TC candidates in uncontested races (41; 33 Democrats, 7 Republicans and 1 Independent). Comparison of the TC guide to the T guide identified 47 candidates that were neither educators nor associated with the education profession.
Comparing the Teacher guide with the TC guide found that 16 teacher or teacher associated candidates were NOT marked with Apples (Troy Dyer R D3, Richelle Helbig R D9, Wayne Herriman D D13, Trey Baker R D27, Yasminda Choate D D28, Mike Gambill R D30, Caryl Talley D D33, Connie A. Parker R D33, Jim Beckham R D42, Marilyn K. Goll R D46, Melissa Tilley D50, Rochelle Covington R D58, Dianna Phillips D D66, Tom McCloud R D67, Lyle Walters D81, Jeremy Miller D D100) NONE won their elections. Tom McCloud in a run-off. Dyer, Herriman, Tilley and Talley uncontested.
The TC guide identified 23 candidates with triangles – all but 3 (2 Democrat, 1 Libertarian) were Republicans. Five of these won their primaries, 4 lost (Carl Parson D8, Cord McCoy D18, Dennis Johnson D50, Ken Walker D70), 12 were uncontested in the primary and 2 are in run-offs.
Does it matter if the media neglects to report part of a story?
Is there more to the story of the Teacher Caucus than the wins?
To get a visual representation of how the TC and T fared – along with the identified triangles – 2 graphs follow. Both visually represent the percentage of each category as part of the total number of candidates in primary elections.
In a series of blogs over the next several weeks, we will take time to explore these ideological differences and how those are playing out in – not only the political realm – but the public square as well as we publish information we have collected on the ‘Teacher Caucus’.
I live in Bartlesville Oklahoma now, but I grew up in Texas. I was a cofounder of the Associated Conservatives of Texas in the 90's, serve on the Traveling Liberty Bell board, was a co-founder of R3publicans in 2008, Constitutional Liberty Coalition (a multistate effort) and OKGrassroots in 2009. We are working together to restore the republic and proclaim liberty throughout the land! Finding Gems & Sharing Them - my personal blog * R3publicans * OKGrassroots * Constitutional Liberty Coalition