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Superintendent Hofmeister reflects on first 100 days, looks to challenges ahead

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has been in the position for 100 days as of Monday.

Hofmeister took office on January 12, and has since traveled all over the Sooner State to advocate for schoolchildren and the education system of Oklahoma.

“It has been a true privilege to see innovative and passionate educators working tirelessly in communities large and small. Their commitment to our children is nothing short of inspirational,” Hofmeister said at a news conference Monday.

In 14 weeks, Hofmeister has toured 21 school districts, visiting classrooms and listening to teachers.

“Every time I go to a school, teachers tell me about how proud they are of their students, and administrators brag on their teachers. At the same time, I know they are concerned about excessive testing, underfunding and an erosion of respect for their profession,” Hofmeister said.

With 1,000 vacant teaching positions and at least 500 positions filled by people who received emergency teaching certification Hofmeister said, “I am determined to do everything in my power to address those very real problems.”

Her first step towards getting more teachers in Oklahoma was addressing the salary issue.

Hofmeister proposed #OKhigh5 in January as a first step in solving the teacher shortage. The plan would add five days of instruction and provide a $5,000 across-the-board teacher pay increase over a five-year period, bringing Oklahoma’s days of instruction to the national average and its teacher pay to the regional average.

In February, Hofmeister pushed for the Oklahoma State Department of Education to partner with the Oklahoma Tax Commission to recalculate a mid-term adjustment law from 1992 — one not followed for 23 years — affecting how ad valorem is calculated in state aid, according to a press release.

In March, she joined thousands of people for the education rally at the state Capitol.

In her first 100 days of office, Hofmeister has also eliminated Oklahoma’s 5th and 8th grade writing field tests.

“Every moment spent on mandated assessments is time lost for instruction,” Hofmeister said. “While I support accountability and state testing, we must have proof that those tests themselves are proven, accurate and useful to teachers and students alike. It’s time to end unnecessary testing.”

She says the state would save $5 million annually if EOI exams for high school students were replaced by the ACT.

A Rep Tape Task Force will be started by advisory groups on Hofmeister’s senior advisory council.  The group will seek “input and recommendations as part of a continuous feedback loop ensuring the next steps are effectively implemented and successful,” according to a press release.

The RTTF will begin its work within the next 100 days of her term.

 

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