Calvey Questions Hofmeister Budget Request
“In a year in which we are facing a revenue deficit close to $900 million dollars, Superintendent Hofmeister offers no real solutions for streamlining our education system to make it more efficient and to target student needs,” said Calvey, R-Oklahoma City. “Instead she presented a plan replete with big-ticket funding of districts without accountability for how those dollars are spent related to education results.”
Hofmeister and staff from the State Department of Education were asked to present their fiscal year 2018 budget request before the Oklahoma House of Representatives Appropriations & Budget Committee in an open meeting in the House Chamber. Calvey was among a number of legislators that attended and asked questions about the department’s budget.
Due to time constraints, legislators were not permitted to ask direct questions or follow-up questions of Hofmeister, but instead submitted questions.
“I appreciate House budget leaders for arranging for this presentation, and I look forward to being able to question Superintendent Hofmeister directly in future budget presentations,” Calvey said.
After listening to the more than 5-hour presentation and question-and-answer session, Calvey issued the following list of concerns:
- Superintendent Hofmeister did not answer questions about emails revealed in the felony charges against her, emails she sent which demonstrate her prior knowledge of felony violations of state campaign finance laws, or why legislators should trust her to lead an $8 billion agency, given such evidence of corruption.
- Superintendent Hofmeister declined to address the problem of excessive administration and other non-classroom teacher staff in Oklahoma public schools. Over 50 percent of Oklahoma school employees are not full-time classroom teachers, one of the worst such rates in the U.S.
- Superintendent Hofmeister placed great stress on being able to recruit teachers from leaving for other states, yet incredibly seemed unaware that Oklahoma’s affordable cost of living has a great competitive advantage over other states, a fact which places Oklahoma as 30th among the states for cost-of-living-adjusted teacher compensation, rather than nearly last as Hofmeister claimed.
- Superintendent Hofmeister admitted that this fiscal year the Education Department actually had MORE money available than in any previous year. Yet she also claimed that funding was down from the previous fiscal year.
- Superintendent Hofmeister claims that external indicators show growth in reading proficiency, citing the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). However, these results were based on training of students in reading without recent provisions that allow for social promotion of these children. Her representation is misleading.
- By Superintendent Hofmeister’s own admission, the money requested for a rework of the state data system would cost the state more than three times what the original system cost. This would yield data around an accountability system that has received considerable criticism with charges of racial disparity in applying different levels of expectations for children of color as opposed to their white counterparts. Superintendent Hofmeister has asked the state to fund this data system rework with millions of dollars without receiving approval by the Legislature or the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), which is now headed by new leadership.
- Superintendent Hofmeister falsely claimed that the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) law for education “requires” that Oklahoma develop an entirely new accountability system. In fact, the new law requires no such new system nor the additional taxpayer money sought by Superintendent Hofmeister for this purpose.
- Superintendent Hofmeister is asking for money for a duplicative pilot program that would help coach teachers on the very things that they are supposed to be taught while in their colleges of education.