October 26, 2018
State Board of Education wants $440 million funding boost
The state Board of Education on Thursday approved a $3.35 billion budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 that addresses Oklahoma's teacher shortage by investing in needed classroom supports for students.
The spending plan, characterized as "no small ask" by one state Education Department official, is $440.7 million more than was appropriated for the current fiscal year.
It restores $253 million to the state funding formula to reduce class sizes and restore classroom resources in hopes of attracting and retaining teachers and improving student achievement.
Oklahoma has 1,457 fewer teachers than it did in 2010 but 41,050 more students, according to figures provided by the agency.
State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the budget represents a "strategic investment for students and teachers."
"While a significant step forward, the teacher pay raise was not enough to stem the teacher shortage or meet the pressing needs of a growing student population," she said. "Increasing instructional dollars must be Oklahoma's next step forward."
Since June, the state board has approved 2,716 emergency teaching certificates, including 151 on Thursday — 741 more than were approved over the previous 12 months.
The certificates are issued to school districts that lack qualified candidates to fill teaching positions.
The budget request also includes $58 million to hire counselors to assist students with academic planning and social and emotional needs and provide trauma-informed training to other counselors.
Funding for textbooks and other instructional materials increased by $7.25 million to $40.25 million.
The spending plan includes an additional $79 million for Support of Teachers and Students, a line item formerly called Public School Activities that directly effects classroom programs and investments.
Funding for alternative education programs to reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates received a line-item increase of nearly $30 million — the amount of money spent by districts in FY18, the agency reported.
The agency, meanwhile, earmarked $11.9 million for support of low-performing schools and $11.7 million to aid an estimated 78,358 children reading below grade level ($150 per student).
Training for teachers ($5.3 million) and support for new teachers ($1.7 million) is also included in the request.
"This budget that you have presented, I am very pleased to support because you've reached into so many areas and you've shown us why it's important and why we need all these areas," board member Cathryn Franks told Hofmeister. "It's not just 'let's give teachers a pay raise and that will fix it.' That will not fix it."
In delivering the agency's budget presentation, Carolyn Thompson, chief of government affairs, said the budget request was intended to "meet the needs of schools and students that were echoed so loudly by teachers this spring."
"Their message to the Legislature was a need for restored operational dollars and strategic investments for students and classrooms," she said.
The agency also is requesting $503.4 million for teacher and support staff health insurance — an increase of $19.6 million — and $19.3 million for administrative support. The bulk of the spending plan ($2.55 billion) provides financial support of schools.
October 16, 2018
Group of State’s Top Teachers Support Hofmeister’s Leadership
Press Release from Friends of Joy Hofmeister
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has won the endorsement of five former Oklahoma Teachers of the Year. The prestigious group supporting Hofmeister's reelection bid includes Jon Hazell of Durant, Elaine Hutchison of Fairview, Peter Markes of Edmond, Jason Proctor of Tahlequah and Linda Hasler Reid of Jenks.
Jon Hazell, the state's 2017 Teacher of the Year, credits Hofmeister with helping navigate public education through a particularly rough period.
"It is no exaggeration to say that these past several years have probably been the most difficult times ever faced in the history of public education in Oklahoma," he said. "Joy Hofmeister’s leadership has not only kept us steady during these stormy times, but through her vision and passion she has led the way in bringing about some of the most meaningful and needed changes to our profession, even in the midst of these daunting challenges, that will benefit our children and our state for many years to come.
"There is no one more experienced or qualified to continue to lead Oklahoma education into the 21st century than Joy. I will definitely be voting to support her reelection on Nov. 6."
Hutchison, Oklahoma's 2013 Teacher of the Year, credits Hofmeister with bringing positivity and transparency to the office.
"Joy has worked diligently to rebuild bridges between lawmakers and the State Department of Education to ensure meaningful change and growth can occur in our schools. She has worked to implement meaningful policy while helping rid schools of unnecessary standardized testing. These changes have most definitely occurred because Joy has cared enough to listen to educators, reflect on their words and take action to find solutions," Hutchison said. "Joy has worked diligently to amplify the teacher voice and profession. She has fought hard to ensure that Oklahoma teachers got a much-deserved raise during the last legislative session. Most importantly, Joy cares about the children in our schools, and will fight to ensure that each one of them has the opportunity for an incredible public education. Please join me in voting for Joy Hofmeister for state schools superintendent this November."
Her sentiments are echoed by 2007 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Linda Hasler-Reid.
"It is so refreshing and empowering to have a State Superintendent of Public Instruction who believes in teachers and public education. Superintendent Hofmeister clearly sees herself as a public servant whose role is to make decisions which are best for children, families and communities," said Hasler-Reid, who taught in Muskogee and is now site principal of Jenks East Intermediate Elementary. "She serves the State of Oklahoma with humility, intelligence, grace and a collaborative spirit. I stand with Joy."
Jason Proctor, Oklahoma's 2015 Teacher of the Year, said, "Joy Hofmeister is a strong, unwavering advocate for kids who has fought for the resources teachers need for the classroom. She knows that teachers are the most important factor to ensure a strong education, and that's why I am voting for Joy on Nov. 6."
Peter Markes, Oklahoma's 2014 teacher of the year, championed Hofmeister's ability to bring people together.
"Joy is the much-needed coalition builder that education must have now more than ever," he said. "From my first collaboration on her 2014 Transition Team to today, I continue to be impressed and appreciative of her ability to not only listen to stakeholders' concerns, but also follow through with the often difficult challenges in making meaningful change based upon those voices. Above all, it is apparent that she makes decisions based upon what is best for kids and schools."
Hofmeister said she is humbled by the support of these top teachers.
"Aside from the parent, there is no one more important to classroom success than the teacher. That is why I have fought hard since Day One to ensure they get the resources and respect they need to make a positive difference in the lives of our kids. I am deeply appreciative of the kind words and support from Jon, Jason, Peter, Elaine and Linda."
September 24, 2018
Former Governor Brad Henry Endorses Joy Hofmeister
Press Release from Friends of Joy Hofmeister
Former Gov. Brad Henry, who made education a cornerstone of his two terms in office, today endorsed State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister in her bid for reelection.
Henry is a Democrat and Hofmeister a Republican, but the former governor said education is an issue that transcends party affiliation.
"A strong Oklahoma requires a strong system of public education. As state schools superintendent, Joy Hofmeister has been a tough, tireless and effective advocate for all Oklahoma schoolchildren," Henry said.
"From Day One, Joy successfully fought for a long-overdue teacher pay raise and continues to push for increased investment in public education. She spearheaded strong academic standards, eliminated unnecessary testing and has always supported local control for our schools. Joy has shown she is willing to fight for our students and teachers, even if it means standing against her own party. There is real momentum underway for our schools, and I believe Joy Hofmeister is a big reason why. I trust her to continue fighting for public education, and I hope you will too.”
As the state's chief executive from 2003 to 2010, Henry increased teacher pay and ensured that Oklahoma paid for teachers' health insurance. Under his stewardship, the state became a leader in early childhood education. Gov. Henry's wife, Kim Henry, taught U.S. History in Moore and Shawnee public schools prior to becoming Oklahoma's First Lady.
Hofmeister said she is humbled by the support of Gov. and Mrs. Henry.
“What an honor it is to have the support of Gov. Henry, who was and remains a strong ally for public education,” said Hofmeister. “I have always appreciated and admired his commitment to our students, teachers and schools throughout Oklahoma. I am humbled and thankful he is offering his support.
“Governor Henry and I agree that the issue of public education transcends party affiliation. Providing a quality education to all Oklahoma children is not a partisan issue. We should all work together for the good of every student and ensure they are well prepared for life."
September 14, 2018
Teacher shortage task force identifies progress, unfinished business
A working task force created to tackle the teacher shortage crisis in Oklahoma has released an updated report on its progress.
The group was formed in 2015 and started with about 90 members including teachers, school districts, some lawmakers, and members of the business community. Superintendent Joy Hofmesister said they created about 40 recommendations.
"There were about 8 or 9 that needed to go through the Legislature for changes in law to remove hurdles or barriers that would help us with the teacher shortage. Those were all successfully passed," Superintendent Hofmesister said.
Teacher pay raises were a critical first step in combating the shortage crisis, Hofmeister said. However, she several steps remain to be taken with about 500 vacant positions in Oklahoma.
"That continues to illustrate that we are not yet able to turn around the teacher shortage. At the end of the day, it is our children that are burying the brunt of that cost," she said. "We have 2,153 emergency certification requests submitted to the State Board of Education in only the first three months of the school year and that exceeds all time annual high."
Right now, the group's focus is turning to investment in Oklahoma classrooms. This includes training for teachers and keeping the turnover rate for principals low.
"It’s not talked about sometimes but we have a principal shortage, and we believe that as we have new principals or as we have principals that have experience that we provide training that’s meaningful, that helps them to network," Hofmeister said. "We know that a principal is someone who can set the tone for a school, where families can feel welcome…where teachers feel supported and where they keep and insulate teachers from red tape."
The group has also surveyed teachers who have left the profession but continued to keep their teaching certificates active. The results are then given to lawmakers.
Summer externship opportunities have also been provided. Hofmeister said the purpose to give teachers training and expertise in fields, which can then be taken back to their classrooms.
"We’ve arranged for that to happen with business partners, around STEM, and we have teachers from kindergarten through high school that are part of that pilot as we begin to make new relationships," she explained.
Dr. Robert Romines, superintendent of Moore Public Schools, is a member of the working task force. The district hired about 50 teachers this school year.
"It was more difficult to fill the empty classrooms this year but fortunately, we were able to hire emergency certified teachers and alt-ed teachers to help bridge that gap," Dr. Romines said.
Romines said there is a significant cost factor when it comes to training new teachers.
"There is a lot of money that has to be invested in those individuals whether it be through professional development, the mentorship piece that we’ve worked on so very hard on here in this district," he said. "Part of the tide that we need to turn has to do with the respect of what public education is about and what our teachers are faced with and what we need to do to turn that around."
Hofmeister said the working task force is currently completing a three-year "teacher supply and demand" study.
"That will be produced and then those findings will give the task force their next set of priorities and then we will take the financial need to the Legislature and ask for the very strategic support," she said.
To read the full progress report, click here.
September 6, 2018
State Law Removes Accused Teachers From Classrooms
Lawmakers took a big step this year toward keeping the good teachers in the classroom by giving them a raise.
What you may not know is that they took just as big a step a couple of years ago to keep the bad teachers out.
In 2013, a News 9 investigation exposed a loophole in state law that allowed teachers accused of inappropriate relationships to stay under the radar and keep teaching.
The State Department of Education — the agency with the power to revoke a teaching certification — didn't intervene, because the incidents were never reported to them.
"We know what was happening before," explained Joy Hofmeister, "a school district would approach someone with: 'This is what we believe,' and 'You need to resign today,' and they were quietly exited."
Hofmeister was sworn in as Oklahoma's State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2015 and immediately began looking for a solution.
She and the State Board of Education were instrumental in working with lawmakers to pass new legislation to counter the problem.
Senate Bill 711 became law in 2015 and required school districts to report complaints of sexual misconduct to the State Board.
“When we have to determine the rights of an adult or the safety of a child, we will always want to do what is best for children,” Hofmeister said.
The law guarantees due process rights for accused teachers.
When the state is notified of a sexual misconduct case, General Counsel Brad Clark steps in the provide the necessary oversight.
"When we have sufficient evidence, we will place that individual on a State School Board agenda and request an emergency order to immediately remove that individual from the classroom," Clark stated.
He says the teachers are often placed on suspension, pending the results of the state’s investigation.
"More often than not, with the evidence we have in hand, and when it is presented to the individual," Clark said, "they will surrender their teaching certificate."
However, there are teachers who request a revocation hearing.
Such a hearing is best described as a miniature trial. The state has procedural requirements to disclose witnesses and evidence. If a teacher fails to appear for the hearing, then it is considered a confession.
"We subpoena and swear in witnesses, [and] they testify to the evidence that will be submitted to the hearing officer," Clark said.
The hearing officer then makes a recommendation to the State Board.
The Board ultimately makes the decision whether to revoke a certification.
Through an Open Records request, News 9 reviewed numerous cases against Oklahoma teachers and found several of the inappropriate relationships were initiated through social media apps and messages.
Records revealed details of some of the evidence, such as messages showing a coach bragging about engaging in sexual acts with students in a high school gym and a teacher claiming she knew it was against the law but was too in love with her student.
According to state records, in about a third of sexual misconduct cases involving teachers, no criminal charges are filed.
Often, victims' families decline to take part in a criminal investigation in an effort to protect a loved one from further humiliation.
"Parents don’t want to put their child through that, [and] without their cooperation, a district attorney doesn’t think they have sufficient evidence," explained Hofmeister, "but we have enough that we can do something."
Those are the type of cases that would’ve slipped through the cracks before the passage of SB 711 but aren’t now.
"The law is working," Hofmeister said.
Documents show that, in the two years before the new law took effect, the state board revoked 15 teaching certifications. In the two years since, 75 have been revoked.
Relatively speaking, the cases are rare. The state employs more than 45,000 teachers with less than one tenth of a percent deemed bad actors.
“This is a fraction of the total population of our professional educators, but even one is too many and cannot be tolerated,” Hofmeister said.
Of course, the vast majority of teachers would never think of preying on their students, and now the few that do no longer are able to get a second chance.
The state hosts an online public-facing portal where a parent or community member can check the status of a teaching license.
Hofmeister says the portal is also helping to protect students across state. School districts in other states, or other potential employers, are able to review individual’s status in Oklahoma.
“We will always want to do what is best for children and this is a way we know has provided greater safety and kept bad actors out of the classroom,” Hofmeister said.
To check the status of a teaching certification click here.
To review the state laws & state board rules for teacher certification revocation, click here.
September 6, 2018
State Superintendent: Executive Order On School Consolidation 'Deeply Flawed'
The State Department of Education says they will not give Governor Mary Fallin a list of schools for possible consolidation.
Last November, the governor issued an executive order saying all school districts that spent less than 60 percent of their budget in the classroom were to be complied onto a list. Then, the State Board of Education would use that list to make recommendations on what districts should have their administrations consolidated.
The deadline was September 1.
“It’s a deeply flawed executive order. It’s not something that I think is appropriate anyway,” said Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent.
Right before the deadline, the chief counsel for the Department of Education sent a memo to the governor saying the executive order contains "uncertainties", including the definition of "instructional expenditures".
Using the governor's parameters, the memo says, "approximately ninety-one percent (91%) of public schools - traditional and charter schools - in the state are to be considered for administrative consolidation.”
“Any kind of artificial bar that’s been set where decisions are made at the executive branch or at 23rd and Lincoln here at the capitol are not necessarily going to be the best for students,” said Hofmeister.
In addition, the letter says the governor doesn't have the authority to demand the list and similar legislative attempts at consolidation have failed.
“I think that the very best thing is to keep the focus on instructional dollars to the classroom but also respect local districts on their decisions as they know their students best and how to best allocate funds,” said Hofmeister.
A spokesperson for the governor's office told News 9 she is reviewing the letter.
September 6, 2018
Hofmeister talks ongoing education reform at Owasso Chamber’s monthly luncheon Wednesday
Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is keen on quotes, particularly one made by Jamie Casap, global education evangelist for Google.
In her own words, he said, “It’s not about asking what do you want to be or what do you want to do, it’s what problem do you want to solve?”
She referenced Casap while addressing attendees at Owasso Chamber’s monthly luncheon on Wednesday during her visit to talk to community members about the status of education in Oklahoma.
“When we ask a student that question,” Hofmeister said, “we tap into (their) interests and (their) passions.”
The three-year incumbent, who will face Democrat John Cox on Nov. 6 to gain a second term in office, told Wednesday’s crowd her administration is “retooling where we focus” to continue preparing students to become lifelong problem solvers.
As such, Hofmeister has convened advisory groups made up of school leaders, teachers and students, as well as local business partners and faith-based organizations, to ensure different perspectives are represented at the state-level decision making process.
“When we make policy decisions, or any kind of decision to shift gears or make a recommendation, it has to answer one question: ‘Is it the best for students?’” she said. “And we have to make those steps forward based on that information.”
Oklahoma has continued to hold ongoing conversations about workforce readiness as it pertains to education, Hofmeister said, and a new opportunity arose two years ago by securing a three-year, $2.3 million grant by JPMorgan Chase called New Skills For Youth.
“We are leveraging (that) $2 million in grant money in different ways, and one of those ways is by creating new partnerships … so that we have this competitive edge so that our kids are ready for whatever they are going to face in the future,” Hofmeister said.
As one of 10 out of 44 states in the country to be awarded the grant, Oklahoma is using this to increase face-to-face communication; build a one-stop-shop website for students, parents and educators; and establish an interactive community platform.
Hofmeister also mentioned the state’s recently approved comprehensive education plan, Oklahoma Edge, and its new ICAP, or Individual Career Academic Plan.
Oklahoma Edge, an eight-year strategic vision for statewide education, outlines 238 pages reflecting engagement with educators and more than 5,000 individual pieces of stakeholder feedback that has led to six measurable goals to reach by 2025.
Likewise, ICAP, a multi-year process that guides students as they explore career, academic and postsecondary opportunities, has replaced graduation requirements when the state removed seven End of Instruction exams from Oklahoma state law in 2016.
“Last year, we had 59 schools in 28 districts participating in our ICAP pilot. This year, we have 136 schools in 77 districts,” she said. “These pilots are helping us to develop best practices before it goes statewide, and we will see full implementation in the 2019-20 school year.
Hofmeister said Owasso will serve as one of ICAP’s pilot districts going into year two, and her administration is continuing to reach out to local business owners and community leaders to help support the program.
“We need you, and there are big ways and small ways to make a difference in the lives of kids,” she said. “There are ways to make a great lasting impact and to be what students often can’t see within their own interests and self.”
September 5, 2018
Chronicle: The State of Education
KOCO 5 takes an in-depth look at Oklahoma's education system and what has changed since the teacher walkout in April as we start a new school year.
September 5, 2018
Final Oklahoma runoff vote tallies certified
The Oklahoma State Election Board on Tuesday certified vote totals from the primary runoff election held one week ago.
Members of the board reviewed results from Oklahoma's 77 counties that included votes cast by absentee ballot, in early voting and at the polls on Election Day. Some of those votes were provisional ballots, which aren't counted until after the election.
A voter can cast a provisional ballot if they cannot verify their status as a registered voter in that election; officials must determine if the vote is legitimate or improperly cast. For example, in the race for attorney general, officials examined nearly 400 provisional ballots and confirmed incumbent Mike Hunter as the winner by 271 votes. The margin increased by two votes compared with last week's election returns.
The final results of statewide candidates in the primary runoff election, as certified by the Oklahoma State Election Board, are as follows:
Governor (R) Mick Cornett: 137,316 (45.44%) √ Kevin Stitt: 164,892 (54.56%)
Governor (L) √ Chris Powell: 547 (59.07%) Rex L. Lawhorn: 379 (40.93%)
Lieutenant Governor (R) Dana Murphy: 123,618 (41.87%) √ Matt Pinnell: 171636 (58.13%)
State Auditor and Inspector (R) √ Cindy Byrd: 144,020 (50.17%) Charlie Prater: 143,032 (49.83%)
Attorney General (R) √ Mike Hunter: 148,419 (50.05%) Gentner Drummond: 148,148 (49.95%)
Superintendent of Public Instruction (R) √ Joy Hofmeister: 167,117 (56.68%) Linda Murphy: 127,732 (43.32%)
Commissioner of Labor (R) Cathy Costello: 138,181 (47.66%) √ Leslie Osborn: 151,766 (52.34%)
Corporation Commissioner (R) √ Bob Anthony: 155,996 (53.61%) Brian Bingman: 134,981 (46.39%)
Corporation Commissioner (D) √ Ashley Nichole McCray: 87,752 (65.08%) Blake Cummings: 47,081 (34.92%)
August 28, 2018
Joy Hofmeister wins runoff for state schools chief - Photo Gallery
Doug Hoke | newsok.com
August 28, 2018
Schools chief wins GOP runoff election
State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister moved a step closer to a second term Tuesday, cruising to victory over Linda Murphy in the Republican runoff election.
With all 1,951 precincts reporting, Hofmeister received 167,054 votes (56.68 percent) to 127,668 votes (43.3 percent) for Murphy, a certified teacher and the Republican nominee for schools chief in 1994 and 1998.
Hofmeister, 53, of Tulsa, advances to the Nov. 6 general election against Democrat John Cox and Independent Larry Huff. Both ran unopposed.
"My focus stays right on kids, no matter who stands against me," said Hofmeister, who celebrated with supporters at a watch party in Oklahoma City.
"This election is about children, their future and ensuring they have what they need to learn and succeed."
She thanked Oklahoma voters for their support and promised to work collaboratively "to ensure that all our kids have a strong, well-rounded education."
"Clearly, this is now a time when we look to November and continue to make education a priority, not just this election cycle but every single year," she said.
"We'll continue to make every decision based on what is in the best interest of children," she said.
August 26, 2018
Candidates meet in only forums before superintendent runoff
State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has presented herself as a fierce advocate for public schools who has been willing to battle her own party on issues of teacher pay, education funding and state testing, while her Republican runoff challenger, Linda Murphy, vowed to reduce burdensome regulations that keep too much money with the state Department of Education.
On Friday, just a few days before Tuesday's runoff, both Hofmeister, 53, and Murphy, 66, appeared in two debates, each selling their credentials to lead a public school system that has been squeezed by a decade of funding cuts and rocked by a two-week teacher walkout in April.
"I absolutely supported the right of any teacher ... to protest the governor and their legislators," Hofmeister said about the walkout, speaking at a debate hosted by the journalism website NonDoc and titled "Schoolhouse Rock."
Hofmeister, who is running for a second term, said the walkout was a result of a decade of teacher struggles and a Legislature that ignored their pleas.
She also said the walkout was worth it, even though the teacher pay raise came earlier and most teachers were dissatisfied with the amount of education funding increases approved by lawmakers during the protest.
Murphy, a certified teacher and the Republican nominee for superintendent in 1994 and 1998, criticized Hofmeister for not showing enough leadership during the walkout.
"What I didn't like is the OEA (teachers) union having the mic for 10 days,” Murphy said. “I think the superintendent could have helped" address the "chaos and confusion during the walkout."
The two candidates also met in a forum earlier in the afternoon hosted by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association during its annual conference in downtown Oklahoma City. Hofmeister and Murphy were joined by Democratic nominee John Cox in front of a crowd of hundreds of school board members from across the state.
At both forums Murphy referred often to state and federal regulations on public schools, claiming they keep too much money in Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C., rather than going to local schools.
“Increased regulations have a price that costs districts,” said Murphy, who said new academic standards developed during Hofmeister's term represented "nationalized testing."
Hofmeister pointed to her administration's reduction of state-mandated tests and said the new academic standards were created by Oklahoman teachers.
"That's just absolutely false," Hofmeister said about the idea that Oklahoma has "nationalized testing."
At the NonDoc debate, both candidates were asked about State Question 801, which will be on the November ballot and would allow school districts to use local bond funding for teacher pay.
"I think, overall, (SQ 801) would be an improvement," said Murphy, calling it a local control issue.
"I cannot support it," Hofmeister said.
Hofmeister also was asked about felony charges filed against her in 2016 over campaign finance violations that ultimately were dismissed by the Oklahoma County District Attorney, which Hofmeister said happened because the district attorney saw flaws in the charges.
"I've moved on ... I knew the truth," Hofmeister said.
Murphy said the district attorney could bring them back, but Hofmeister said she is working with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater on an October summit on childhood trauma, something that would be inappropriate if the matter had not been settled.
On school vouchers, which allow students to use state funding for private school tuition, both Hofmeister and Murphy said they were not in support.
On charter schools, Murphy called them "private-public entities" and criticized the state Board of Education for approving some charter schools over the objection of local school boards.
Hofmeister said she has fought to have greater transparency with charter school funding, some efforts that have not been approved by the state Legislature.
August 24, 2018
Joy Hofmeister, Runoff election - State Superintendent - Republican
Ari James | The Daily Ardmoreite
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.
Introduction:From an early age I wanted to be an educator. As the daughter of an electrician and steel manufacturer and a homemaker, I developed the drive and resolve to graduate magna cum laude from TCU with a bachelor's of science in education. Since that time, I dedicated my life and career to helping children reach their potential through education. I was a public school teacher, successful business owner and a collaborative leader who built and led a large team of hundreds of highly skilled, service-driven professionals. My husband, a judge and ordained minister, and I have been married 34 years and raised our four children in Tulsa where they each began and graduated public school.
Why are you running for this office?Over the past three years, Oklahoma has pulled through some of the most difficult times for public schools enduring an economic downturn, tattered textbooks and teacher shortages. Through it all, I've championed the repeal of unnecessary testing, cutting costs by 40 percent. In 2015, Oklahoma ranked 47th, near the bottom of the U.S., for the rigor of its academic standards and received a "D" rating. But after writing new comprehensive academic standards — developed by Oklahoma schoolteachers for Oklahoma students — Oklahoma catapulted to 17th highest in the nation, one of only 17 states to earn an "A" rating. We won landmark legislation to provide long-overdue teacher pay raises and I'm determined to finish the job. We cannot let opponents roll back the collaborative work and accomplishments, only to return us to the failed policies of the past. I won't stop until our kids have the strong, well-rounded public education they deserve.
What do you think are the top three biggest challenges facing our state?Many challenges in education still remain and the gains made this legislative session should only be a first step in making Oklahoma regionally competitive. We must focus on the top three barriers that have caused our state to slip to the bottom over the last decade:· Oklahoma's crippling teacher shortage· Oklahoma's oversized and under-resourced classrooms· Oklahoma's eroded public school funding that has not kept pace with our growing enrollment and learning needs. (We are operating on the same dollars as 2008 with 53,000 more students.)
What are your top five priorities to address while in office? Looking forward, my priorities will build upon the significant accomplishments we worked so hard to achieve for our students over the past 4 years including: · Attract, support and retain exceptional educators. · Provide greater transparency and accountability of school funding to ensure student success. · Ensure students graduate ready for their next steps in learning, whether it be career certification, military service or college. · Shift time and focus to provide rich instruction instead of teaching for the test. · Develop a well-rounded education for all kids to include, the arts, music, civics, advanced coursework and STEM.
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?At the end of the day, my job is to do what is best for Oklahoma schoolchildren, regardless of political views. However, I believe we can always find common ground and begin at that point to solve immediate needs and lingering challenges. I believe those closest to a problem have the best hope of solving it. It takes more time, energy and effort for leaders, but working alongside local towns, school districts, teachers and families is the only way to build lasting gains for students and a stronger Oklahoma.
August 22, 2018
Education leaders talk teacher shortage, need for more advocacy at Tulsa World forum
State and local education leaders hammered home the severity of the state’s teaching shortage and the need for continued engagement from parents in their children’s education Wednesday evening.
They stressed the importance of building relationships and the need to fight for more funding in education, even after the Oklahoma Legislature appropriated hundreds of millions of additional dollars as a result of teachers’ advocacy this spring during and before the two-week teacher walkout.
Just hours before the Oklahoma State Board of Education was set to approve 900 emergency certifications, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister was asked by the Tulsa World’s Wayne Greene how the state can rebuild its teaching corps.
“It starts with respect,” Hofmeister said to applause from more than 100 people who attended the Tulsa World’s forum on “How to be an Education Advocate” at OSU-Tulsa.
“This cannot be one year. We cannot address or make education a priority once every 10 years and expect to see higher state outcomes and remain competitive,” said Hofmeister. She noted that 46 percent of the state’s teachers are novices.
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist sat next to Hofmeister during the forum. Her district has struggled with turnover and could have as many as 276 emergency-certified teachers.
TPS administrators worked as classroom teachers on Wednesday, the first day of the semester, because not enough teachers were available. This is the third straight year this has happened.
“We are looking for people to take positions,” said Gist. “I contrast that with the state where I lived most recently (Rhode Island), where if we had a second-grade position, there would be 200 applicants. That’s not hyperbole. The difference in Rhode Island is that I would meet a teacher at the grocery store checking groceries because she had her certification and couldn’t find a job.
“Here I meet teachers at the grocery store because it’s their second job because they can’t make ends meet. That’s a wildly different story,” said Gist. “It puts a terrible, terrible strain on the organization. It puts a terrible strain on the experienced, certified, qualified teachers in the school.”
Just down the panel sat one of those certified teachers, Shaniqua Ray, the TPS Teacher of the Year. She said teachers need support and better pay, “which is what is going to keep you in the classroom.”
“If you’re having to work another job, how can (a teacher) be effective in the classroom?” asked Ray. “We also want to know that you care about our scholars, as well. If you care about our scholars, then we’re talking about the future here, and you need to invest in them now.”
The other panelists, Kathy Seibold, Impact Tulsa executive director; and Tristy Fryer, co-chair of the Bixby Parent Legislative Action Committee and administrator of Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education, stressed the need for parents to be informed and to vote so education in Oklahoma can improve.
August 14, 2018
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister: 'Oklahoma schools are in a much better place'
Phil Cross - Fox25 okcfox.com
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — It was a school year that saw nearly 2,000 emergency certified teachers, along with growing class sizes and outdated books and equipment.
Oklahoma was in a crisis that boiled over to the historic teacher walkout.
“What we saw occur was something that can only be measured in the empowerment that those who support public education now feel,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
She believes the walkout put a face on the educational crisis and connected those that work at the capitol with those they are there working for all while showing the overwhelming support for public education in Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma schools are in a much better place,” Hofmeister told FOX 25, “But we are still not where we need to be. We won't be until we have teachers in every classroom and have students with the resources they need in every school.”
Even with the pay raise passed last session, emergency certified teachers are still a concern. There are more than 1,200 applications so far, this year. That means there are more than 1,200 openings that couldn't be filled with someone who went to school to be a teacher. That number of emergency teachers just gets Oklahoma to a break-even point; it does nothing to address overcrowded classrooms that have become routine as student populations have outpaced the ability to hire more teachers.
“I think no single stroke of a governor's pen can reverse the eroded funding to public education that's occurred over the last decade,” Hofmeister said.
However, there is hope that the course is changing. Perhaps the biggest sign of this change can be seen in the state’s education standards.
Just a few years ago the state standards were rated among the worst in the country. This summer the new standards implemented during Hofmeister’s first term were given an "A" rating and named 17th best in the nation.
Still though, it is becoming clear Oklahoma’s educational crisis is a symptom of much larger underlying problems. During a recent seven city training tour put on by the Department of Education, teachers flocked to lectures on how to teach children who experience trauma.
Schools, are coping with the effects of poverty, over incarceration and cuts to mental health. Classrooms today simply are not the same as they were a generation ago.
“There are no bumper sticker solutions and it is important that we do not approach education as a one size fits all approach,” Hofmeister said.
While teacher pay addressed one area where Oklahoma was lacking, Hofmeister said there are still areas of funding that need to be addressed.
“We've addressed one big area, which is an important first step, but it is not going to address the respect and resources teachers need to stay in Oklahoma,” Hofmeister said.
While state did provide an additional $33 million for textbook replacement, the money for textbooks has not been provided for some time. And when divided out, it's not enough to buy just one textbook for every student in Oklahoma.
Hofmeister hopes the teacher walkout forces Oklahoma lawmakers to address education issues before the next crisis.
“We stop chasing problems and we begin with a real clear identified quantified list of priorities ... that directly impact students,” Hofmeister said.
Already on the horizon is the battle over class sizes. As funding levels improve schools may soon lose the waivers that allow them to bypass the state law that requires smaller class sizes.
“Right now even if they wanted to, or even if it was mandated, there wouldn't be enough teachers because of the shortage,” Hofmeister said of the potential of restoring class size restrictions.
Hofmeister said she wants to assure teachers that their raise is here to stay, but acknowledges there is still hesitation for those considering staying or entering the profession.
“Keeping people in the profession is going to be a top priority here on out.”
“It is about respecting the needs of educators as they have worked tirelessly, quietly for years, but their voices have been raised they aren't going to stop telling the stories of the children in their classrooms and that's important advocacy for kids.”
July 29, 2018
Hot Seat: Joy Hofmeister On Teacher Shortage, Academic Standards
State Supt. Joy Hofmeister talks the Oklahoma teacher shortage, emergency certifications and a new study on academic standards.
July 19, 2018
LISTEN: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on the “K101 Morning Show”
KWOX FM - K101
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was on Thursday’s K101 Morning Show to talk about Engage OK, as the professional development conference makes its seventh and final stop of the summer at Woodward High School.
Hofmeister was also joined by Woodward Schools Superintendent Kyle Reynolds.
July 15, 2018
Candid discussion: Oklahoma students give advice to new teachers
NORMAN — The students, most of them incoming high school seniors, didn't hold back when Oklahoma's top education official asked them what they'd like their teachers to know.
Their advice to new and less-experienced educators: Be yourself, engage your students and don't be afraid to make mistakes.
"There are going to be bad kids that talk crap on you and just yell at you in class and stuff like that," said Nini Wu, a senior at Norman North. "Don't let that get to you.
"There are so many more kids in that class that want to listen to you, and they want to let you try. Don't let one kid affect the other kids in your class that want to learn."
State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister led Thursday's panel discussion at Norman North High School, which focused on what students wish their teachers knew.
Hofmeister pointed out that nearly half of Oklahoma teachers are in their first five years of teaching.
Christian Coleman, a recent graduate of Millwood High, said they should establish a classroom climate early and be consistent.
"If you're a new teacher, let them know that you are a new teacher," he said. "It's OK, you don't have to keep it a secret," he said.
"You're learning and they're learning. I think I would be a lot more open to working with you if I know that you're trying to learn, you're trying to get the hang of this thing, too."
Yukon High senior Dawson Simeroth warned against first-year teachers trying to please every student.
"If you do that you spread yourself way too thin, you go after something that's completely unattainable and you kind of end up completely undermining your own authority," said Simeroth, the son of Yukon Public Schools Superintendent Jason Simeroth.
"You look like a people pleaser, working for them and not with them. Live for the small victories."
The candid discussion has become a staple of the state Education Department's EngageOK on the Road summer conference for educators, a session Hofmeister said teachers appreciate.
"We always learn from students. There's always something new," she said. "I think it's very important that we include student voices in decisions that we make at the state level, and we know that's important at the local level, too."
Thursday's stop in Norman drew about 2,000 educators. The conference resumes Tuesday in Durant.
Students were also asked "what makes a teacher successful or effective?" and "how much homework is enough?"
For Norman North senior Beth Felkner, successful teachers have "cared about me in the classroom and kind of beyond it."
"I have some learning disabilities, so sometimes it's been harder for me," she said. "But it's really teachers that have invested in me and cared about me that have pushed me to do the things that I do, like take AP classes and stuff like that."
Teachers, Felkner added, don't have to be perfect.
"We understand that sometimes they're going to make mistakes. Sometimes they're going to have days when they're not 100 percent, either," she said.
"I think some first-year teachers come in with the idea that they have to be perfect, that they can't make a mistake, that students will think they're entirely incompetent if they do one thing wrong. For me, anyway, that's not true at all. We understand it, and we're kind of in it together."
July 13, 2018
Tulsa World editorial: Joy Hofmeister proven effective education leader
Proven leader as state superintendent
From World's Editorial Writers
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has proven to be an effective education reformer deserving of her party’s nomination to a second term.
Hofmeister, a Republican, faced unique challenges in her first term and has come through it with grace and leadership.
The Jenks resident fulfilled many promises made four years ago and has been an impressive stateswoman for problems facing teachers and school administrators.
Among her accomplishments has been reducing state testing, writing new standards for math and reading, eliminating end-of-instruction tests, providing free college entrance ACT and SAT tests for 11th graders, seeking changes to the school A-F grade card and outlining a new education plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
Hofmeister also gets to share credit for state-funded teacher pay raises averaging $6,100, passed by the Legislature this year. She has pushed for teacher raises from Day 1 and continues to seek funding for other essential education reforms.
She came into office by defeating Janet Barresi, who had a tumultuous term that alienated many educators and lawmakers.
Hofmeister has been able to rebuild those bridges to focus on seeking reforms and restored funding.
During Hofmeister’s service, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater charged her and others with campaign funding violations. Without explanation, Prater suddenly withdrew the charges.
We smell political motives in the prosecution and think voters should dismiss any political damage just as the judge dismissed the charges.
In the primary, challenger Linda Murphy came in a close second.
Murphy was defeated for this office in 1994 and 1998 by Sandy Garrett. In 1995, the Senate Education Committee rejected her nomination as the governor’s education secretary. She then served as deputy labor commissioner under Brenda Reneau.
Her main education position has been to oppose Common Core standards and state standards that replaced Common Core. We would view her election as a step backward for Oklahoma’s education leadership and a terrible mistake.
Hofmeister has a full understanding of Oklahoma’s education system and challenges facing teachers and students. She has the right experience and plan to be the Republican nominee.