In June, as the primary was getting closer, I suggested a series of questions that anyone should ask our Oklahoma State Superintendent candidates.
The questions were raised across two posts, one on June 16th and the other on June 25th, and represented issues about campaign finance, the influence of ALEC, and charter schools.
My concern about the influence of for-profit charter lobbies came after the last legislative session where a strong push to make radical changes to our laws governing charters was defeated after a fight. The proposed legislation would have given for-profit charters the ability to go into any place in Oklahoma and use unaccountable tax dollars to directly compete with the established public schools.
First, Freda Deskin answered. Then her Democratic Party run off opponent, and eventual winner, John Cox answered the same questions later that week.
Now, Republican Candidate Joy Hofmeister has chosen to answer the same questions. Here are her answers as sent to me this morning:
Q: Should all charter schools receiving any kind of tax money have identical testing requirements for their students as traditional public school students?
A: Yes. Assessment requirements and accountability metrics should be the same for charter schools as for traditional public schools.
Q: Should all charter schools receiving any tax money get identical types of public report cards on their students’ performance as are given to traditional public schools?
A: Yes, there should be no difference in the accountability system required of charter schools and traditional public schools. The same transparency and accountability should be expected for all schools funded by Oklahoma taxpayers.
Q: Should all charter schools receiving any tax money have the same accounting oversight requirements as traditional public schools?
A: Yes. Charter schools receiving taxpayer money should have the same accounting oversight requirements as traditional public schools. There should be no difference and full transparency expected if receiving taxpayer money.
Q. How do you intend to fund your campaign?
A. I intend to fund my campaign one contributor at a time. I’ll continue to engage people all across Oklahoma who share a vision for a strong public education for our students.
Q. If you are self-funding, how will you pay it back?
A. The majority of funds for my campaign have come from individuals all across the state. I will continue working hard each day to gain support from individuals and local communities throughout the state in order to repay any debt.
Q. If self-funding, what are your standards for deciding if you will accept a person or organization paying you back?
A. Our campaign accepts contributions from parents, teachers, superintendents, and community leaders across the state that care about the future of education and share my vision for a vibrant public education system that serves ALL students.
Q. If your campaign is raising money, who are your contributors so far?
A. Our contributors represent a cross-section of our local communities throughout rural, urban and suburban Oklahoma. They are engaged parents, grandparents, teachers, school leaders and retired educators; small business owners, community leaders, career technology and higher education leaders, legislators, ranchers, bankers, homemakers, manufacturers, and farmers, many of whom have never given to a campaign before.
Q. What interests are represented by those who are giving to your campaign?
A. Those that have given to my campaign agree we need new leadership to solve recent and lingering challenges that get in the way of ensuring a vibrant public education system for our students. They share my vision and plan to move Oklahoma education forward by working with, not against, our teachers, school leaders, parents and local communities.
Q. Do any of those contributors represent any kind of private corporate interests?
Q. How would you interact with a Fallin administration?
A. I am the candidate who will be most effective advocating for our public school students with our Republican Governor, our Republican leadership in the state House and Senate, and our Republican appointed State Board of Education. I believe I can be instrumental in bringing us all together with a shared vision for a strong public education system that address our greatest needs for Oklahoma students.
Q. How would you interact with a Dorman administration?
A. I believe Rep. Dorman and I would work together as professionals and look to find common ground. With my diverse background in both education and business, I am the candidate who is most experienced at building coalitions through inclusive and collaborative leadership. We must bring more people and groups to the table with differing viewpoints.
Q. How will you work with the dominant Republican Oklahoma Legislature to influence their decisions about funding for public education and to defend standards proposed by education professionals?
A. My administration will build on the core group of 45 Republican lawmakers who set historic precedence by joining me before the GOP primary election to challenge a statewide incumbent in our own party. I will build on that momentum and continue to work with our Republican supermajority in the state House and Senate, but am also committed to building bipartisan support to address appropriate education funding, competitive teacher pay, and first class academic standards which foster both higher level critical thinking skills and ensure depth of knowledge as proposed by education professionals, among other needs. The stakes are too high and our students cannot afford four more years of dysfunction.
Q. How closely will you work with ALEC and other out-of-state groups to help you form policy?
A. My allegiance is to the school children of Oklahoma, period. My administration will act on evidence, not anecdote or perception from any group. I am committed to finding the best solutions available to address the needs of our students.
On Twitter you may respond to Hofmeister @joy4ok, and Cox @DrJohnCox . They also each have campaign pages on Facebook.