By Salesha Wilken
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Joy Hofmeister recently met with Rogers County supporters in Catoosa after announcing her bid for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Hofmeister will face off against incumbent Superintendent Janet Barresi in the June 2014 Republican Primary Election.
Resigning her seat on the State Board of Education in April, Hofmeister is looking to take a different approach to Oklahoma’s State Department of Education.
Through her service on the board, Hofmeister recognized a need to bring accountability and transparency to the office, something she feels is currently lacking.
“Trust has been eroded,” Hofmeister said, “…The Department of Education and parents expect rules to be put in place ahead of politics.”
Information needed to make an informed decision was often times not made available to members prior to a vote, according to Hofmeister.
Known for taking a “no” stand on several of Barresi’s reforms, Hofmeister said, “I saw a missed opportunity to effectively implement those reforms.”
The board and the department were not getting feedback, according to Hofmeister.
Students were not being placed before politics, she added.
“There is a great need to implement reform with effective communication with practitioners in the field,” Hofmeister said.
The mother of four children, business owner and educator, Hofmeister is drawing upon her experience, placing focus on a need for a renewed collaborative approach to education reform.
Citing four primary issues, she is striving to build a world-class education system in Oklahoma.
•Students need to be prepared for college and the workforce.
•Teachers need to be appreciated for the professional they are.
•Schools must be supported.
•Parents need to be engaged.
“We already have the heart and we have the expertise,” Hofmeister said.
It is the job responsibility of the Department of Public Instruction to support and equip the schools, and successful schools have engaged parents, she said.
“There needs to be a climate to encourage that behavior,” Hofmeister said. “We are all on the same team.”
There is a climate where groups are working against each other and that is not the way to move forward, she added.
Acknowledging that reform takes time, Hofmeister believes that first it must take root before having time to grow.
“I fear the reforms that are in place will unravel,” Hofmeister said. “We are missing an opportunity to lift Oklahoma Education.”
Standards are important to have and Oklahoma needs high standards, but how to get there needs to be controlled at the local level, she added.
This includes making sure school administrators and teachers receive useful, reliable information in a timely manner, according to Hofmeister.
As superintendent, Hofmeister said she is committed to insuring funding is dedicated at the state level, while educators reserve the opportunity to teach students in a manner that meets their needs.
At the same time, schools are government and need to be accountable for how funding is being used and that the desired outcomes are being achieved, she added.
“All mandates land at the teacher’s desk and they will feel the biggest impact,” Hofmeister said.
The education system in Oklahoma is dealing with a variety of complex issues and it will require someone who can make tough decision, even if they are not popular, she added.
Needs are different across the state and we have to make decisions that make sense for rural, suburban and urban schools, she added.
“We have to make sure we are listening to the concerns and questions in the process of putting in the high standards,” Hofmeister said.