Walters Demands Schools Do More To Stay Open; Hofmeister Calls Him ‘Out of Touch’
Beverly Cantrell - January 12, 2022 6:33 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – News 9
A tweet from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s education secretary has turned into a statewide debate on how our schools are grappling with the latest COVID-19 surge.
State Secretary of Education Ryan Walters insists schools should be doing more to stay open. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said schools have done all they can and blames the rash of disruptions on the Governor.
“It is imperative to send a message to school leaders to exhaust all resources available to keep our schools open,” Walters said.
Walters sparking outrage among some educators with a tweet that said children suffer when administrators act out of fear and not the best interest of students.
Asked whether he regrets his tweet that has insulted some educators, Walters said, “I’m unapologetic for standing for students. I’m always going to do what I think is in the best interest of our kids. I want to see our school stay open.”
“It was a kick in the teeth to those serving in schools and further proof that leadership in the governor’s office is in effective and out of touch with the problems affecting Oklahoma families,” Hofmeister said.
Both are seeking higher elected office. Hofmeister has switched political parties, running for Governor as a Democrat. Walters is vying for Hofmeister’s current role of State Superintendent.
“School districts need to be leveraging the federal dollars and ensuring they’re paying substitutes a high rate; they need to be reaching out to parents to substitute. They need to be reaching out to the community, reaching out to the churches saying come help us keep schools open,” Walter said.
“Every one of our school districts are already paying substitute teachers more. They are already working to find volunteers, many (administrators) are taking the place of teachers, cafeteria, those that are driving busses when people are out sick,” Hofmeister said.
Hofmeister held a call with superintendents across the state on Wednesday afternoon. She said the spread of school shutdowns is all contingent on the path of the virus.
“Right now, COVID is raging across the state, and we do not have the people, the volunteers for substitute teachers to be able to operate schools,” she said.
“The approach has to be ‘what option has not been explored yet to keep our kids in school?’” Walters said.
Walters, a history teacher, said he is clearing his schedule to begin substitute teaching later this week.
Hofmeister’s team said she will be helping at Western Heights Public School on Friday.