State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says the tax bill is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. Amanda Taylor caught up with her at the capitol Monday, April 2.
Amanda Taylor: The legislature passed some things last week, how do you see that affecting our schools?
Joy Hofmeister: Well, it's a significant effect when we talk about our teacher shortage. It's very important that we have competitive pay so our teachers will not walkout of Oklahoma classrooms and in to other states. So, a very important landmark bill that has address that, but that's not why teachers are here today. Teachers are here fighting for students in their classrooms. In fact, I've seen a sign that says this isn't a walkout, it's a walk-for, a walk for kids.
Amanda Taylor: That's interesting. Let's talk about what has been passed, some of the teacher pay raise that has been asked. Last year we had hundreds of teacher openings in Oklahoma schools. Do you think this is going to help that?
Joy Hofmeister: I do, but it's going to take many years to reverse the historic and severe teacher shortage that Oklahoma has endured. Our children deserve better. The most important person in a school house in lifting academic outcomes is a teacher. And our children have not had those teachers. And the teachers that we do have are not having the resources they need to give the instructional materials to students and we have to work to change that. And it's because of what's best for kids is why we are here today and many are advocating for more of a priority on education funding.
Amanda Taylor: Because there is a lot of teachers out here today that say there is not enough. They are having to duct tape their classroom books, their text books. Do you see us being able to get more education funding?
Joy Hofmeister: I think there's real momentum with the bill that was signed into law last week. It's a momentous step forward, but one bill and in fact one year is not going to reverse 10 years of eroding for public education.
Amanda Taylor: Do you support the teachers that are out here if they want to stay an extended amount of time?
Joy Hofmeister: I do support our teachers. The reason they are here too is because their local school boards have passed a resolution or modified the calendar to insure that no instructional time is lost and that they can be here without having a negative impact on students. We know that teachers are here wanting to do the right thing for their students, and I don't think that is going to change.