LAWTON, OK (RNN Texoma) - Three people are running for State Superintendent of Education in November. Our current State Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister is being challenged by Democrat Dr. John Cox and Independent Larry Huff. They all want to make it better for teachers and students in Oklahoma.
Voters elected former school teacher Hofmeister as the State Superintendent back in 2014. We've seen an increased focus on education after the teach walkout that happened earlier this year. She wants to keep education a priority for years to come.
"We continue to see the full weight of the teacher shortage as we have been warning for three and a half years,” Hofmeister said. “The shortage is not going to reverse in a year...and we are grateful for the competitive pay that we now have, the largest pay in landmark legislation but it is about operational dollars, dollars in the classroom for textbooks, for supplies, for training for teachers and teachers tell us that this is most important to them in meeting the needs of their children."
Dr. Cox, who taught in Oklahoma classrooms for over 32 years, said he's proud of what teachers fought for during the walkout...classroom funding. Dr. Cox said if he's elected he wants teachers to get another pay raise.
"It will be my push to immediately go after $2,000 more and in the following year to go after another $2,000 and that's $120,000,000 for a $2,000 raise,” Dr. Cox said. “So, we're going to have to look and make an investment. We're going to have to actually make a sacrifice to make an investment for our teachers. I really believe that we need to get to that level. That will bring some satisfaction, but teachers are really looking for: How can we reduce class size? How can we create a better environment? How can we get rid of these high stakes testing that we are involved in? How can we change the culture of education?"
Huff spent 30 years as an administrator in the Department of Education. He believes Oklahomans need a new perspective. Huff contends too many teachers in Oklahoma don't have the proper credentials to be teaching.
"Oh, they have an emergency certificate and they'll call that a credential,” Huff said. “But they do not have the background and preparation that regular teachers have to be successful with students and so as I said, the faster we run, the behinder we get. We have to catch up. At some point, the legislature and it's wisdom is going to have to come up with a plan, not a short-term fix, not a band-aid approach, not use duct tape but a plan to provide an adequate salary, benefits, and assistance for our teachers."
Voters can cast their ballot on who they’d like as their state superintendent on November 6th. If someone is going to be out of town during the election, they can request an absentee ballot until the end of this month. Early voting starts on November 1st.