MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 22, 2012

HD14 contenders vow support for education

Rains, Hulbert in favor of full funding

— Arthur Hulbert pledged not to toe the Republican Party line on education if he’s elected to the Oklahoma House.

“I’m far left on education and right on guns and marriage between a man and a woman,” Hulbert, the Republican nominee in House District 14, told the Muskogee County Retired Educators on Friday.

However, the district’s Democratic nominee, Jerry Rains, warned the teachers not to be fooled by such claims.

“Paint a leopard white and it still has black spots,” he said.

Rains and Hulbert pledged their support for education and for full education funding while speaking before the teacher’s group’s monthly meeting Friday. The two are vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee.

Hulbert, a physical therapist and businessman, said he opposes many of the cuts Oklahoma Republicans are making in education funding. Although Gov. Mary Fallin and other Republican leaders are working to eliminate the state income tax, Hulbert said he would oppose tax cuts that would hurt public education. He said he wants to return state public education funding to what it was in 2009.

He also said he opposes “public funds going to private schools or home schools.”

“And it seems to me students are tested to death,” he said. “Teachers should not be evaluated on test scores. And I am opposed to withholding high school diplomas because a student did not pass a test.”

Rains, a rancher, told the educators, “Don’t be fooled by people making false statements.

“The Democratic party is the party that supports the people.”

 Rains listed programs endangered by state budget cuts pushed by Republicans.

“Nutrition centers are in danger of being shut down,” he said. “More money is being pulled away from programs.”

Rains also condemned standardized education tests and how schools must work to keep scores up.

“We cannot let our teachers work to 9 and 10 at night,” he said.

Retired Braggs School Superintendent Raymond Sewell echoed Rains’ concern about budget cuts. He said that although Oklahoma has millions of dollars in its “rainy day” fund, it is near last place in education funding.

“We’re first in women’s incarceration, eighth in teen pregnancy, fourth in divorces, 13th in suicides,” Sewell said.

Sewell also asked Hulbert, “If you’re beholden to the party, how can you stand up against their wishes?”

Geneva Points, a retired Haskell elementary school secretary, said she was glad the candidates came to the meeting.

“I have a son who teaches at Haskell Middle School, and he’s putting in so much more work and hasn’t had a raise,” she said, adding that she liked Hulbert’s position.

Shirley Brown, a retired Haskell cafeteria manager, said she backed Rains.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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