Note: The damaging legislation that has been proposed this legislative session (and in the past) have made it abundantly clear that Oklahoma needs legislators who understand how public schools work. While the best people to fill these shoes are educators themselves, those who are closely related to educators, and who have a passion for public education, are the next best. This series will highlight supporters of public education who are running for office this year.
Brian Jackson is running for the Senate in District No. 37. We sent each candidate a list of questions, and below are Jackson’s answers.
How long have you been a classroom teacher and in what capacities?
I have been married to a public school teacher, a strong #OklaEd advocate for public education, for 7 years. I work for Junior Achievement-a non profit that works with volunteers and teachers in the classroom K-12th grade to teach financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. I am a father to a daughter in PreK, I am a graduate of public schools, and being married to a teacher and involved in our schools, I see first hand what is happening in our educational system.
What has motivated your decision to run for office?
I can no longer sit back and watch our legislators pass or try to pass policies that hurt education and our professional educators. I must be proactive and do whatever I can to help education. I serve on the Sand Springs City Council and with that, I am able to attend legislative meetings and work closely with school Superintendents. I am involved in those conversations. It’s time to bring educational truth the the Capitol.
What is your goal? What do you want to accomplish?
I will cross party lines and do whatever it takes to always put KidsFirst. Education is the cornerstone to our democracy. Education must be protected, supported, and valued at all costs regardless of party lines. Politics shouldn’t be a game. Students have no party affiliation. I will listen and work with my constituents to vote on issues. I am their steward. I will change the narrative that public schools are failing. Public schools are not failing!
What are your positions on school vouchers/ESA and deregulation of districts?
I am 100% against any form of vouchers or ESAs. I am 100% against consolidation of districts. I am 100% against the deregulation of public schools.
How would you return funding to school classrooms?
I support repealing income tax cuts and also support David Boren’s one cent tax initiative, I support State Superintendent Hofmeister’s plan on replacing high school EOI’s with ACT. Millions of dollars are wasted on testing. Also, we need to reevaluate tax credits to corporations. Money is there. We have to be diligent in finding it. Public education was not funded properly when oil and gas prices were higher so using that as an excuse is unacceptable. I believe in pay for public education first off the top of the budget. A healthy Oklahoma economy starts with educating our future. By starting to properly fund education off the top of the budget, Oklahomans will begin to see decreased incarceration and social dependency. Education is the foundation. We must track this effort for a full 13 years following a kindergarten student through high school. Example OK13- a statewide emphasis on raising the next generation for the benefit of Oklahoma! Every year show an increase in funding to Oklahoma public education.
What would you do to reverse the teacher shortage?
Start off by addressing teachers as professionals and thanking them for their service to our state and future. Teachers don’t feel valued. They don’t feel heard. They most certainly don’t feel supported by those making policies. Professional Educators should be paid a wage that is comparable to our region. Remove restrictions like retired teachers waiting three years before being able to return to classrooms. We need to promote our retirement system, not turn it into a 401K private system. The state should continue with health care-and look at insurance costs. The cost of insuring a family is outrageous. The educator has a flex benefit but once you start adding children or a spouse, the paycheck is gone. We need highly effective teachers in every classroom.Give them the support they need and deserve.
What do you see as the most pressing issue in #oklaed that needs to be addressed?
Priorities should always start with the students:
- Properly Fund Public Education
- Setting Oklahoma Standards that align with Oklahoma Values
- Legislators listening to the Professional Educators regarding any educational issue
- Legislators listening to and working with State Supt. Hofmeister
How can fellow educators help your campaign?
Help us by spreading the word that friends of education are running for office to make a positive difference in education. Become educated on issues. VOTE! Although I am not a classroom teacher, I am married to a 3rd grade teacher. I live and breathe education through her as much as humanly possible. I feel her frustrations with high stakes testing, I advocate with her at every chance, I feel the impact of under funding through our daughter who is just starting school. We have some friends of education in office, but we need more. My goal is to always put KidsFirst. My PAC is made up of Professional Accountable Citizens. IF you want to support our efforts to make education a priority at the Capitol and support our grass-root efforts, here is my website. We need you to find your voice and advocate for our kids, our schools, our parents, and our professional educators. Thank you for fighting with me.