Editor’s note: Candidates for state and national offices on the ballot for the August 28 runoff election were invited to respond to questions for profiles in The Ardmoreite. Those who chose to respond will be featured alongside their ballot opponent. For those that did not participate, basic information will be provided.
Linda Murphy, candidate for State Superintendent from Edmond. I was born and graduated high school in Cheyenne, Oklahoma then graduated from SWOSU in Weatherford.
My degree is in education and I have been certified to teach 30 years in Oklahoma. I taught special education in Caddo County in K-8 grades and in 6-12 grades. I also taught in Osage County in K-8 and served as director of testing. I’ve taught children and adults in all subject areas and with a wide range of exceptional needs including students with Learning Disabilities, Developmental Delay, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, Blind and Visually Impaired. I received a statewide award from the State Optometric Association for my work with students with visually-related learning problems.
I received 49.5 percent of the votes in 1994 statewide for this office and served in Governor Keating’s administration. I am married and have 4 children and 10 grandchildren.
Why are you running for this office?
I am running for State Superintendent because I believe Oklahomans need new leadership in education. We have seen the lack of leadership from our current Superintendent during the teacher walkout where for nine days the OEA Union leadership was in control of the media spotlight. That same Union contributed $150,000 to help elect my opponent in 2014. I believe Oklahomans are ready to elect a State Superintendent who will represent the people of the state including all teachers and not special interests.
It is time for an educator who will focus on student learning to lead our education system. Oklahoma’s public schools can provide excellence in education when we allow teachers to teach without forcing experimental programs into the classroom. I will lead to make the changes needed to put money into the classrooms for supplies and materials while making sure teachers’ salaries are increased.
What do you think are the top three biggest challenges facing our state?
Solving state budget issues - State officials must work together to solve problems with our budget and distribution of state funds. All agencies, boards and commissions must be audited and account for all funds.
Achieving Education Excellence – It is a priority first and foremost for the sake of our students and the effect good education has on their lives. It is also important because our state image has been damaged by problems in education funding and by the poor results shown on student testing for the last two years.
Supporting business growth to grow our economy - Businesses can prosper by removing unnecessary regulations and insuring we have well educated graduates from high schools, career technology, colleges and universities. Students who have a well rounded and comprehensive education can learn anything. Basic skills of reading, writing and math are foundations for all future learning and job training.
What are your top five priorities to address while in office?
Establish true local control- which comes by removing state and federal regulations that prevent education improvements, including teacher evaluations now controlled outside of local districts.
Return the dignity and authority of classroom teachers- by letting those who are experts in their areas of education be free to teach as they determine best and lead as examples for new teachers.
Order a comprehensive audit of the department of education- which has not been done in the past according to the State Auditor’s office.
Ensure that Charter Schools are regulated where problems are identified- like the inaccurate reports of comparisons favoring all Charter Schools over all Public Schools and misuse of public funds found by the state auditor.
Turn the Department of Education into a service agency- which helps schools solve issues where they need help such as writing and following IEPs for special needs students and establishing effective discipline policies.
When faced with a specific situation that puts your personal viewpoint at odds with a great many of your constituents, what decision do you make and why?
In a situation where most of my constituents (who are all citizens statewide) are in favor of a specific policy or position, I will make decisions that align with their view. The only exception to that would be in a case where I have more information about the issue which in my opinion would make it very important to go a different direction. In a case like that, I would go directly to the public to provide more information and take time to listen to the citizens. The public schools must have public support and good communication is a very important part of the role of an elected state official.