Jo Anna Dossett is a parent, a public educator, and a born Oklahoman. The daughter of two retired Oklahoma public educators, Dossett holds a Bachelor degree from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri; and a Masters degree from Oklahoma State University. Although college and a two-year tour of service in the United States Peace Corps took her from Oklahoma for a time, returning to establish a career, home, and family in the Tulsa area was always her greatest desire.
She certainly achieved it: as an Oklahoma public educator, Dossett has devoted her 15-year career to the education of English Learners throughout the Tulsa area. Whether teaching youngsters by day, or adults in the evening, Dossett’s passion for equipping students with the language tools they need for personal success has become her trademark. During those 15 years, Dossett has been named a school district teacher of the year, while also maintaining high levels of engagement and leadership positions in her local education foundation, and in her local and state teacher associations.
Whether serving on a local school bond committee, mentoring early career teachers, or lobbying legislators on behalf of her students and colleagues, Dossett’s energy toward the betterment of public education in the State of Oklahoma is seemingly limitless.
Dossett lives in the heart of Senate District 35 with her husband of thirteen years, Chris Barber, who is also a career public educator, and a doctoral candidate at the University of Oklahoma. They are the doting parents of two children: Dora and Hugh. The family is active at St. John’s Episcopal Church. When Dossett is not nurturing her young family, she can be found pounding the pavement in support of Tulsa-area political candidates who share her vision of a just, healthy, future-ready, and prosperous Oklahoma.
At the Capitol, I will fight any measure that attempts to defund public education and I will advocate for all measures that would restore pre-recession funding levels to our public schools. Despite teacher pay raises enacted in 2018 and 2019, Oklahoma remains well below pre-recession levels in per pupil funding, falling $100 million short of the funds available to our schools in 2008. With well over 50,000 more students than we had at that time, conditions in public schools across Oklahoma are driving educators out, and leaving our children without the quality education we are constitutionally obligated to provide them. Restoring pre-recession levels of public education funding would help us attract and retain teachers, improve support personnel wages, provide students STEM and arts courses, and improve access to postsecondary education and training. Failure to restore pre-recession funding levels is a failure to meet our constitutional obligation to the children of Oklahoma, and will only hurt us all, as we move together into a future for which our children will be unprepared.
Healthy citizens are essential to the prosperous future of any state. But currently, Oklahoma is one of the unhealthiest states in the country. We rank second in the nation for uninsured citizens, and fourth in the nation for uninsured children. It is critical for our future that affordable and comprehensive healthcare become accessible to more Oklahomans. All District 35 voters deserve to get the care they need at a price they can afford, and I will tirelessly advocate for that at our state capitol.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Oklahoma incarcerates its residents at a rate 50% higher than the national rate. Oklahoma women, in particular, are incarcerated at twice the national average. Our prisons are well over capacity and simultaneously understaffed. Despite our high levels of incarceration, we continue to experience above the national average rates of crime in our communities. It’s time to end our dependence on incarceration, and enact smart, rehabilitative measures which will simultaneously reduce prison costs, facilitate recovery in our offenders and their families, and promote public safety. At the Capitol, I will advocate for reducing or even eliminating cash bail for non-violent crimes. This system results in citizens spending months in jail before they are tried, because they can’t afford to make bail. In the meantime, wages and jobs are lost, children go without a parent, and the chances of getting back on track diminish each passing day. Additionally, these extended pre-trial jail stays are extremely costly for Oklahoma taxpayers. We can do better than this, and I am ready to lead the way from District 35.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN
At the Capitol, any issues that disproportionately affect women and children will be my top priorities. This is not only for the good of women and children, but for the future of us all. Whether the issue is inadequate education funding, limited access to healthcare and poor health outcomes, or excessive incarceration, Oklahoma’s challenges acutely affect the women and children living here. For the future of us all, it is imperative that Oklahoma women and children can thrive in our state. Rising maternal mortality rates, high infant mortality rates, and low life expectancy for women at birth are not trademarks by which we should be known. Rather, healthy infants, educated children, and strong women equipped to contribute to our state’s growth and prosperity, should be our standard.