Episode 026: Legislative Update 1

Education, Education Podcast, Policy, Politics

After lots of brainstorming about how I might make the Passing Notes blog and podcast better, I decided to make a 2019 goal to provide more news and information using both platforms. Passing Notes will still include interviews with education experts published every two weeks but every other week, we will get political (but not partisan). My goal is to provide information to educators, concerned citizens, stakeholders, families about what is going on in education in Oklahoma. Some weeks we might have guests or panels but every other week we will have updates. At least through the legislative session.

Please send me your thoughts and feedback! And definitely let me know if you’d like to come on an episode and talk education politics with me. Let’s get started!

This episode is focused on the Senate Bills that have been filed for the 57th legislature. Senators can file an unlimited number of bills. The deadline to introduce a bill is January 17th, 2019.

Senate Education Committee

  • Senator Gary Stanislawski (District 35) – Chair
  • Senator Joe Newhouse (District 25) – Vice Chair
  • Senator David Bullard (District 6)
  • Senator J.J. Dossett (District 34)
  • Senator Tom Dugger (District 21)
  • Senator John Haste (District 36)
  • Senator Carri Hicks (District 40)
  • Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman (District 37)
  • Senator Chris Kidd (District 31)
  • Senator Roland Pederson (District 19)
  • Senator Dewayne Pemberton (District 9)
  • Senator Marty Quinn (District 2)
  • Senator Paul Scott (District 43)
  • Senator Wayne Shaw (District 3)
  • Senator Jason Smalley (District 28)

Episode 025: My Conversation with the Superintendent

Education Podcast, Podcast, Policy

While most of us might agree that the current climate of education politics is improving, there is still a ways to go and Superintendent Hofmeister has been leading that charge. She recently requested a budget of $3.35 billion for the 2019-2020 school year, which was the largest budget ever requested for common education, aimed on reducing classroom sizes, decreasing the student to counselor ratio statewide, increasing funds to alternative education, a focus on professional development, and more.

Superintendent Hofmeister is Oklahoma’s 14th State Superintendent. She completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Texas Christian University, receiving a certificates in English and elementary education. She served as a public school teacher, then as the CEO of Kumon Math & Reading Centers of South Tulsa. She served on the Oklahoma State Board of Education from January 2012 to April 2013 before running for State Superintendent. She was sworn in on January 12, 2015. In November of 2018, Superintendent Hofmeister was re-elected to a second term and will be sworn in on January 14, 2019.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Superintendent Hofmeister:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Describe your background in education.
  3. What motivated/encouraged you to run for public office?
  4. Describe what your typical day looks like as Superintendent.
  5. What has surprised you about the position of Superintendent?
  6. What of your first term accomplishments are you most proud of?
  7. What do you hope to accomplish moving forward into your next term? What do you hope to accomplish for teachers? Students?
  8. What do you hope to accomplish in regards to the budget?
  9. Over the years education has had to cut a number of programs (Oklahoma Parents as Teachers, teacher mentorship programs), are there any past programs that you are hoping to bring back?
  10. With a new freshman class of legislatures, what are your plans to educate them on public schools and higher education?
  11. What goals do you have surrounding decreasing the teacher shortage in Oklahoma? How will Oklahoma compete with surrounding states that are willing to pay teachers more?
  12. You have brought in a focus on trauma in our state, how do you hope to prepare educators and schools to mitigate the impact of trauma on students?
  13. The State Department of Education has received a large number of grants in the last year, how do you think this change education in our state?
  14. What do you hope education in Oklahoma looks like in the next four years? Ten years?
  15. What is favorite part of being the State Superintendent of Oklahoma?

Episode 020: The Election Episode

Education Podcast, Policy, Politics

Elections are upon us! Early Voting begins today (11/1/18) and lasts through Saturday (11/3/18) and the official Election Day is November 6th! If you are interested in voting early – this link will take you to the information you need. Voting is an important right and I hope that all of you exercise that right on Tuesday. If your are looking for resources, check out last weeks blog post and podcast with Shari Gateley about Everyday Advocacy.

For this episode I interviewed Representative Jason Dunnington. Jason represents House District 88 in the state of Oklahoma and is soon to enter into his third term. Since his first election he has been a proeducation advocate. Throughout our conversation we discussed the upcoming election and the future legislative session including how educators can continue to engage in the process! You can find Representative Dunnington on Twitter @jdunnington or on Facebook.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Representative Dunnington (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Why is this election important for our state?
  3. How can educators… educate themselves on the upcoming elections?
  4. In what ways can educators support pro-education candidates in these final days?
  5. What should educators do going forward (reference 1990 walk out and subsequent election) to ensure that we are not in the same place 10 … 20 years from now?
  6. In what ways should educators engage their legislators going forward?
  7. What are the best ways to stay informed? (some bills/info coming out of 23rd and Lincoln can be complicated and convoluted)
  8. What is your charge to legislators, where do we go next to continue (re)building our state?
  9. How do we as a state move forward after the elections? What keeps you hopeful that we will have a vision for our state’s future?
  10. What is your vision for the remainder of your time as a legislator?
  11. What are you excited about going into the next legislative session? What are you hoping will be discussed/passed?
  12. Which elections are you looking forward to watching?
  13. What are your go-to resources for information about elections?

This episode was recorded at Design Tunnel in downtown OKC!

Episode 004: Interview with Jamie Gibbons

Education, Education Podcast, Policy

The Teacher Walkout! April 2, 2018 has come and gone and educators across the state of Oklahoma are in Day 5 of the teacher walkout. So much has happened and while I wasn’t planning on releasing an episode of Passing Notes this week, I felt like I needed to. So, I sat down and interviewed Jamie Gibbons, an OKCPS teacher about her reflections on what has happened and the work that still needs to be done.

Share your thoughts and reflections from this week in the comments section.

Episode 003: Interview with Claudia Swisher, Part B

Education, Education Podcast, Policy

Interview with Claudia Swisher continued.

Episode 002: Interview with Claudia Swisher, Part A

Education, Education Podcast, Policy

I have followed Claudia Swisher on Twitter @ClaudiaSwisher and on her blog Fourth Generation Teacher for years. She has truly been an advocate for education throughout her 39-year teaching career and now into retirement. Over the years I have learned from Claudia the importance of advocacy and persistence in the face of seeming defeat.  Claudia has taught students at every grade-level in the K-12 system as an elementary classroom teacher, a school media specialist, a multi-categorical resource special education teacher, a title 1 remedial reading teacher, and a high school English teacher. She is certified in English Language Arts, library media, and reading specialist with a graduate degree and 20 hours past a masters in special education. Oh and she is a National Board Certified Teacher.

However, this quote by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, which she proudly displays on both her Facebook and Twitter pages, sums her up and her life mission: “Be a nuisance where it counts; do you part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics – but never give up!”

The Teacher Walkout in the state of Oklahoma has been a true grassroots movement, spring boarded by the 9-day teacher walkout in West Virginia, where teacher pay was ranked at 47th. Oklahoma teachers banned together through the use of social media to plan, strategize, and get union leaders on board. The potential walkout in Oklahoma is remarkable, as it is not been pulled together by teachers rallying around a bill, was not union started, and is coming on the heels of two failed special sessions that failed to fund core services in our state. Further, this upcoming walkout is inclusive and is calling for state employees to join the cause. It is not just about teachers but our legislators failure to increase revenue and fund the government. The OEA has demanded that the legislator fund a teacher and support staff pay raise, increase funds to education, and fund a raise for state employees.

It is truly amazing what a group of dedicated, civically involved individuals can do to better our society. Further our students and children are watching. We are modeling for them democracy in action.