While she was state school superintendent, Kathy Cox didn’t often mix with members of the fourth estate.
But in an exit interview with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) the state’s former top educator addressed two sensitive topics: Her 2004 attempt to strike references to “evolution,” in favor of the term “biological changes over time,” and her personal declaration of bankruptcy in 2008.
O’Hayer has posted the first portion of that interview here.
On evolution, Cox said:
“It was a great lesson for me….The standards are more than a classroom teacher. They represent something to the larger public. They represent something to the larger entity of the nation. And that was a great lesson for me, that I needed to step out of my shoes as a teacher sometimes and see the bigger picture.
“And even though I was trying to make it so that our science standards could be such that a teacher anywhere in the state could teach what they needed to teach, it wasn’t the right decision from the bigger picture.
“And, boy, did I learn that in a hurry – and kind of had it handed to me in a hurry. We quickly changed….They also saw me stand up as a public official, an elected public official, and say, ‘I messed up. But I’m going to fix it, and I’m not going to waste any time fixing it.’”
Two months after Cox gave away $1 million won in a game show, the state school superintendent and her home-builder husband filed for personal bankruptcy in November 2008.
Cox said her dire financial situation didn’t distract her from her duties:
“I think it made me a better state school superintendent, because the budget situation was real to me….
“You don’t judge. Especially as teachers. We only see one or two sides of a child and their family. And we’re so quick sometimes to judge. And teachers especially have a tendency, when kids are struggling, to blame parents, or to point the finger, or to say why don’t the parents do this, this and this.
“And I’ll tell you, going through what I’ve been through as a parent and everything – I’m a much better teacher and educator because I’m not going to sit in judgment of other people.”