There’s no doubt I’m voting to re-elect State Superintendent of Instruction Joy Hofmeister when I vote tomorrow. I was a supporter of hers in 2014– before I even lived in Oklahoma! I remember asking family and friends to vote for her that summer as I watched what was happening in my home state. There are many reasons to re-elect Superintendent Hofmeister: her focus on what is best for kids, her campaign to educate the state on how to support students who have experienced trauma, her work ensuring food-insecure students are able to eat over the summer, and the fact that she has hired some excellent people to help lead the OK State Department of Education.
Another reason that I haven’t heard much talk about is her leadership in getting more than $22 million in federal funds for Oklahoma schools in just the last few months. State Department staff, under her leadership, have applied for and received major grants from the U.S. Department of Education, the Native Youth Community Project, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As every parent or leader knows, when money gets tight, you get creative. Joy Hofmeister and her staff have done just that by seeking federal funds so Oklahoma can move forward even in spite of the historic cuts to school funding. I have written or co-written several federal grants and the time committment is intense. On average, I would say it takes a team of 3-4 people at least 7 hours a day for 30+ days to successfully complete a federal grant. The OKSDE who have been a part of the grant-writing have done this work on top of traveling to schools to offer professional development, working with Oklahoma educators to improve schools, and lobbying legislators for more resources. Their work and effort directly benefit our students.
How will these grants benefit Oklahoma students?
- 85 school districts will receive funding to develop plans to improve school safety
- A staff of three safety experts will be hired to provide training to schools statewide
- 1,400 American Indian students will have better access to resources that will increase their college and career readiness (including college campus visits, tutoring and mentoring, and more rigorous coursework)
- Schools in rural and under-served parts of Oklahoma will have access to mental health professionals, opioid addiction prevention services, and training on positive school climate
- 4,000 students and their families in five districts will have access to food pantries
Superintendent Hofmeister has worked tirelessly over the past four years to improve many aspects of Oklahoma schools in the face of nearly insurmountable funding and political challenges. Her success in obtaining more than $22 million in federal funding in just the last three months is one of the reasons we need her leadership for four more years. I’m with Joy!