Morning Bell: Superintendent faces two challengers
Good Monday morning! Tomorrow is Election Day and state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister faces two challengers in the Republican primary - Linda Murphy of Edmond, and Will Farrell of Tulsa.
"There is still more work to do," Hofmeister told The Oklahoman. "I believe our students deserve a competitive, well-rounded public education and that starts with teachers that are well-equipped and have the resources they need."
Hofmeister, 53, who heads the state Education Department, has led efforts to write new standards for math and reading, repeal unnecessary testing, and provide free ACT and SAT tests for eleventh graders.
Few political observers (if any) are predicting a tough primary for Hofmeister. That could be surprising given how contentious education has become in Oklahoma. Then again, it could speak to the way Hofmeister has continued to position herself as an advocate of teachers and educators, even while they have intensified their frustration towards state government.
Hofmeister also has a significant funding advantage, with about $300,000 compared to $20,000 for Murphy, 66, a certified teacher and the Republican nominee for superintendent in 1994 and 1998.
Murphy criticized Hofmeister for not showing more public leadership during the statewide teacher walkout in April.
"She was elected to represent the public but only showed a willingness to let the OEA union lead day after day," Murphy said. "They led a nine-day walkout without a goal clearly defined at the end."
Early voting began last week...
Tax repeal petition thrown out
On Friday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled an initiative petition that sought to overturn a package of tax hikes to fund teacher pay raises and public schools was invalid.
In a divided ruling, Oklahoma's highest court said the proposed referendum "is legally insufficient" and ordered that the initiative petition not appear on the general election ballot in November.
The group behind the effort to repeal the tax hikes said it will decide in the next few days whether to file a new referendum petition.
"We are keeping all of our options open,'' said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, one of the organizers of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite!
Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! has less than a month to file a new petition and gather more than 41,000 signatures for a statewide vote on repealing the tax hikes. The deadline is July 18.
TBS board member questions Greenwood Leadership Academy
A Tulsa Public Schools board member said this week that she couldn’t in good conscience vote for the Greenwood Leadership Academy to continue operating under the TPS umbrella after a special needs child was placed in a locker there in mid-May, reports the Tulsa World.
“The recent events at GLA reveal the lack of safety for students and the blatant disregard for state and federal regulatory guidelines concerning special needs students and students with disabilities,” said Jennettie Marshall, a board member. “We cannot afford to turn our heads or close our eyes to the early dismissal of students, to the high suspension rates and this egregious, abusive event of placing a child in a locker.
Educators sexually harassed at school
Forty percent of teachers and school administrators report having been the victim of sexual harassment or assault in their jobs or witnessing such incidents, according to a nationally representative survey conducted by the Education Week Research Center. The survey gives a rare look at the prevalence of this issue in the K12 workplace. Twenty-five percent of female educators say they have personally experienced sexual harassment or assault on the job, even though the profession is predominantly made up of women and most teachers spend much of their day in a classroom, isolated from their coworkers. You can read more from Education Week.
That does it for today's Morning Bell. Got a question or story idea? Send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day!