Hofmeister Takes Aim At Legislature's Education Failures
OKLAHOMA CITY - State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister did not hold much back when she spoke with News 9 about what she expects of the legislature when it comes to Oklahoma's education crisis.
“We aren't going to accomplish a whole lot just with wishful thinking or with good intentions,” she said.
Hofmeister called out the legislature, imploring them to step up and solve some of the biggest education problems currently facing the state.
“We are in a terrible crisis and it is one that must be solved. If it isn't, everything else unravels in this state.”
After last year's session, many educators felt defeated. Promises made during campaigns went unfulfilled. More money for higher education teaching programs was a a non-starter. More money for the budget had not a chance. Budget cuts since 2009 have topped $1 billion. The heavily-pushed teacher pay raises passed but couldn't be funded.
On top of all that is the historic teacher shortage. Schools are relying more and more on emergency certified teachers. More than 1,400 have already been certified, more than all of last year, before the fall semester even began.
“I think there's a will and heart to do these things,” she said, “but we have to have a willingness to come together on how we do it.“
Hofmeister knows money is tight and careers could be at stake but the issue of educating kids it too big to play politics.
“It's going to take setting any political gamesmanship aside. I know this is an election year, but it is one where we ask our legislature to set aside the politics and let's not think about the party right now. Let's think about the kids.”
When asked about whether she was confident the legislature would keep promises this year, Hofmeister said it has nothing to do with confidence. It's either they keep their promises or Oklahomans will bear the consequences.
Later Friday morning, Sen. Mark Allen (Dist. 4) responded in a tweet:
Maybe we should focus on using funds to educate instead of trying to see who can have the most glamorous sports facility or activity bus.— Senator Mark Allen (@MarkDeanAllen) August 25, 2017