TULSA - Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin's re-election campaign says she's working with Republican State Superintendent candidate Joy Hofmeister to work out an educational agenda for the state.
The state's educational system has been somewhat chaotic in the past couple of years, with a number of issues grabbing headlines and prompting sometimes bitter political debate.
- 3rd grade reading tests that students had to pass to move to the 4th grade (recently changed by the legislature)
- Common Core curriculum (also scuttled by lawmakers)
- Problems with a computer-based statewide testing system (the state has fired the vendor)
- Low teacher pay, coupled with high turnover
- A battle for more funding for primary education
- An A-F report card system used by the state to grade schools
There was a contentious battle for the Republican nomination for State Superintendent between incumbent Janet Barresi and challenger Hofmeister, and in a fairly major upset, Barresi didn't even come in second; she ended up third, behind the other GOP candidate, Brian Kelly.
So perhaps it's not surprising that Fallin, a Republican, is making common cause with the GOP candidate who's considered the frontrunner to win in November.
She'll face either John Cox or Freda Deskin, who have an August 26th runoff to determine the Democrat candidate.
Hofmeister tells KRMG that while she's Republican, and always has been, partisan politics are not her priority.
"I have been a voice that was offering different direction than what Janet Barresi was proposing," she said. "I stood up against her in my own party, and the voters spoke."
Asked if she thought the State Superintendent should be a non-partisan office, she replied "I kind of think of it that way, actually, because children do not have party affiliations, and we have to keep in mind that we're there to serve their best interests, and that's what I'm about.