The Edmond Sun

October 21, 2013

Deskin joins schools race

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

OKLA. CITY — Longtime educator Freda Deskin announced her candidacy for the 2014 statewide election for State Superintendent of Instruction.

Deskin is a member of the Oklahoma Education Hall of Fame and is the CEO and founder of Advanced Science & Technology Education Charter Schools in Oklahoma City. Janet Barresi, a Republican, currently holds the office of state superintendent.

“I support educator-led initiatives and I do not support corporate-led charters and other groups that are in it for the money and not for the children of Oklahoma,” said Deskin, D-Edmond.

Corporate efforts are trying to take over public education in Oklahoma, she said Monday outside the State Space Museum in Oklahoma City. Medical science along with psychological and education research that is applied to improving educational standards should not be eliminated, she said.

“The ready-fire-aim approach doesn’t work. We’ve seen that it doesn’t work,” she said. “And my plan is to first create a strategic plan for Oklahoma by bringing everyone to the table, all the stakeholders to the table and work together in a non-partisan fashion that is in the best interest of the children of Oklahoma.”

She has served Oklahoma education for more than 40 years either as a teacher, principal or superintendent. She has been a university dean and worked at the state Department of Education under John Folks, state superintendent.

 “I worked through high school and three degrees while raising a family,” she said. “I know about hard work and tenacity.”

Former Oklahoma First Lady Kim Henry said she has followed Deskin’s career for 30 years when Deskin was a NASA Teacher in Space finalist. Deskin made it to the top 20 Teacher in Space finalists and went to NASA to train, said Henry, campaign chairwoman.

“I thought what a great mentor who is somebody who is so passionate and creative in education,” said Henry, a former school teacher.

Henry said she cannot think of anybody else with the vision and charisma of Deskin, who can  lead state students into the future.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Jay T. Edwards, campaign treasurer, got to know Deskin when as a NASA Teacher in Space finalist, she operated a summer camp for children.

Talk of a charter school came about the more Edwards and Deskin discussed helping children, he said. Oklahoma did not have any charter schools at the time.

“You were the very first to create a charter school,” Edwards said.

Deskin built a charter school to enhance the students’ ability to become better citizens, Edwards said. She brings her vision, knowledge and passion about how education should be taught, Edwards said.

“I certainly hope that people of all parties will support this candidate for office,” Edwards said.

If elected, Deskin said being state superintendent will be about teamwork. Her experience gives her insight to what teachers and students face, because she is in the educational arena every day, Deskin said.

“I see the challenges, the discouragement and the joy of learning that is being lost to excessive testing in our schools,” Deskin said.

Accountability in education must be authentic, she said. A child cannot and should not be defined by a test score, she continued. The state’s backbone of public education must be better, she said. Teaching is a noble profession, she said, while encouraging more young people to go into education.

“We have over crowded classrooms. Our schools are underfunded and we have got to change that,” Deskin said. “We have to support our teachers and our students.

Deskin said she believes she can win the election because her team is organized.

Candidates for office will become official when they file April 9-11, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day for state-wide elections. A primary election date will be June 4. Election day is Nov. 4.

TO LEARN MORE about Freda Deskin, visit her Facebook page at