TULSA — While the governor’s Secretary of Education is bashing school districts for shutting down some classrooms due to staffing shortages, Oklahoma’s State Superintendent of Education says she’s doing all she can to support the schools, despite a lack of support or help from the governor’s office.
Hofmeister, a lifelong Republican, announced in October of 2020 that she had switched affiliation, and would run for governor against incumbent Kevin Stitt as a Democrat.
Asked why she decided to switch parties rather than challenge incumbent Gov. Kevin Stitt in the primary, she told KRMG late Thursday morning that “Governor Stitt has hijacked the Republican Party, and is pandering to extremism. He is sowing division and chaos, and this week with the ‘COVID storm’ is a perfect example of how Oklahomans, and especially our children, are paying the price.”
She pointed to a series of what she characterizes as failures on the part of the sitting governor, whom she believes has failed to take the pandemic seriously, or act in the best interests of the health of the state’s citizens.
“Our governor churned through four state epidemiologists in the first year of the pandemic. Our state pandemic center was the last in the country to detect Omicron. And pretending that this pandemic doesn’t exist makes the problem worse.”
What the school districts heard from the governor’s Secretary of Education this week was criticism and blame.
Secretary Ryan Walters called on the districts to pay substitutes more money, call on non-profits or other organizations to provide substitutes, or put administrators in classrooms.
Hofmeister says the districts have done all those things, and much more, and while she agrees that it is vital that children learn in a classroom environment, “flooding our schools with untrained volunteers is not the answer, and puts our children further at risk.”
“It didn’t have to be this way,” she added.
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