Oklahoma’s Superintendent of Public Instruction testified before the U.S. House and Labor Committee Wednesday. She talked about the importance of so-called “Trauma-informed” teaching in today’s schools, and the importance of teachers really connecting with kids.
Superintendent Joy Hofmeister testified that when we’re talking about trauma, we’re not just talking about school shootings. We’re talking about violence in the home, racism and bullying – any number of factors that can impact a student’s education.
Hofmeister was one of four panelists to answer U.S. Representatives’ questions about how to work with children who have experienced trauma.
“Oklahoma’s youngest children suffer more trauma than those in any other state. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Oklahoma ranks 42nd in the nation in child well-being. Seventy-five percent of our students suffer moderate or serious depression.”
Representative Virginia Ann Foxx (R-NC) said, “That’s a staggering number. Is the work you’re doing around trauma informed instruction developed to address this issue?”
Hofmeister replied, “Those students who engaged in this had purpose and an awareness of a future beyond the tassel and graduation.”
Hofmeister stressed the importance of teachers forming a relationship with students and their guardians, but dodged questions about undocumented children.
“What advice would you give to us on insisting that if we are going to hold unaccompanied children that we ought to be training teachers?” asked Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL).
Hofmeister replied, “We definitely agree that our teachers need and want professional support. Students of all kinds of trauma are arriving at our school doors.”
Hofmeister also answered questions about whether there should be more regulations on guns or whether teachers should be armed.
Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) said, “Maybe you all want to have a show of hands whether or not you think arming teachers is part of the solution to addressing gun violence in schools. Anybody feel that it is part of the solution?”
No hands went up, but Hofmeister said, “I can only speak to Oklahoma and that is not something we have had requested of the State Department of Education. Of course, this is a question for the federal and the state level.”