By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The ability to listen to others and inspire people to work together to accomplish goals is what a Tulsa candidate for Oklahoma state superintendent of public instruction points to as her strong suit.
Joy Hofmeister, a businesswoman and longtime educator, made a stop in Enid Tuesday as part of a statewide “listen and learn” tour. Hofmeister is a Republican candidate for the office. Official filing is in April, and the primary election is June 24. Hofmeister is challenging incumbent Janet Barresi for the GOP nomination.
Hofmeister said Oklahoma needs a change in the office of state superintendent because Barresi has failed to demonstrate leadership.
“I don’t think Janet understands that reform doesn’t happen when you roll out a law,” Hofmeister said. “You have to work together.”
Hofmeister said she believes schools should be held accountable, but the current A-F grading system does not deliver on that promise.
“Instead of a mirror where you have an accurate reflection of yourself, we have like a carnival mirror — it’s wavy,” Hofmeister said.
One of the issues is Barresi’s failure to listen to those who work in the schools, Hofmeister said.
“You don’t try to take on things without input from those you are trying to reform,” Hofmeister said.
Hofmeister said Oklahoma schools need local control, and the state should limit its intrusion into the operation of schools.
“We need to look at where we can stop centralizing education,” Hofmeister said.
Shawn Hime, superintendent of Enid Public Schools, said he’s pleased with what he’s heard from Hofmeister.
“Joy is a breath of fresh air when it comes to educational leadership,” Hime said. “It’s a joy to have someone talk about collaborative leadership with community members, parents and teachers. Our current state superintendent seems to only be interested in politicizing education policy. It is exciting to hear a statewide political leader talk about local control being important in educating a child. She talks about local parents and schools being accountable for education, not the state and federal government.”
Roydon Tilley, superintendent of Chisholm Public Schools, also likes Hofmeister’s approach.
“I do think she’s willing to collaborate with all the stakeholders,” Tilley said. “I have a board member who works in the construction field. When we’re building something around the school, he gets a call every time because he is an expert in the field. I think it’s very important that we bring the stakeholders into the discussion of how to improve the schools.”
Tilley said local parents, school board members, teachers and school administrators are interested in seeing students succeed at school.
“There seems to be a perception that we don’t care,” Tilley said. “I take great exception to that. We do care.”
“I am ready to restore positive and conservative leadership to Oklahoma schools,” Hofmeister said. “I am ready to restore freedom to parents and students and to bring an end to the centralization of our schools. Our wonderful state is being held back by the failures we have had to endure in the administration of Oklahoma education.”
Hofmeister said the need for change is critical.
“Our kids deserve a new leader,” Hofmeister said. “We simply cannot allow our students, parents or teachers to endure another four years of failed leadership.”