Thursday, December 8, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Oklahoma Representative Kevin Calvey Requests Resignation from Superintendent Hofmeister

Earlier today, I received a letter released to the press by Representative Kevin Calvey (R-82) requesting State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister, resign. Here is the text of the letter (which apparently made the Washington Times):

OKLAHOMA CITY – Conservative lawmaker Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City, today called upon State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, R-Tulsa, to resign in the wake of felony charges against her.
“Joy Hofmeister’s own words make it clear that it is best for the children of Oklahoma that she resign,” said Calvey, referring to emails referenced in the indictment filed by District Attorney David Prater, D-Oklahoma City, against Hofmeister and representatives of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA) school administrators’ lobby and the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) teachers’ union, among others. “This isn’t a case of ‘he said, she said.’ Ms. Hofmeister admits in her own emails that she and CCOSA officials planned the massive illegal dark money negative campaign against her GOP primary opponent in advance, and that this dark money campaign would allow Ms. Hofmeister to focus solely on touting her own background rather than engaging her opponent.”
Calvey noted that his call for Hofmeister’s resignation should not be confused with the criminal case against her. 
“Ms. Hofmeister is certainly entitled to the presumption of innocence in the criminal case against her,” Calvey said. “It is a firm principle of the American justice system that felony defendants be presumed innocent of the criminal charges against them. But surely the standard for holding public office is higher than merely avoiding prison. Even if she is acquitted of the criminal charges, the indisputable evidence clearly shows Ms. Hofmeister, CCOSA, and OEA conspired to violate campaign laws to get her elected. The citizens of Oklahoma and the children Ms. Hofmeister was elected to serve deserve better.” 
Calvey questioned whether legislators would trust Hofmeister to lead the state’s largest agency with the cloud of criminal charges looming. 
“If I were a trustee over a person’s funds, and discovered that the person’s CPA had obtained his license by overstating his credentials, wouldn’t I have an obligation to obtain a new CPA, regardless of whether that CPA had committed actual fraud or not? We legislators are in a position similar to that of a trustee over the citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars. Don’t we have an obligation to seek a new leader for the State Department of Education under these circumstances?”
Editorial note: Indictment attached.
Hofmeister, was handed felony campaign violation charges by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater when communications were subpoenaed from political consultant Chad Alexander's phone following a drug arrest. Also charged with conspiracy were former Oklahoma Education Association Director Lela Odom, former Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administration Executive Director Steven Crawford, and political consultants Fount Holland and Stephanie Milligan, who served as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s volunteer coordinator in Oklahoma.

We at ROPE were very concerned about Hofmeister's candidacy for State Superintendent because she waffled on Common Core and didn't seem to have a good reason why she was against it - even avoiding the topic for many months while "she studied it" (her words). Once she came to the conclusion she wouldn't support Common Core, we commenced to provide limited boots-on-the-ground campaign assistance. 

Unfortunately, we've not been able to support her since she began to push the ACT (aligned with the Common Core) for juniors and seniors (though we met with her personally to ask her not to numerous times) and she proceeded to bash ROPE to lawmakers and through social media over our reporting on the adoption process for the new state education standards. We told anyone who would read our blog that - at the very least - the new standards were not testable and wouldn't fit the new ESEA guidelines, but we were ignored and low and behold Mrs. Hofmeister was forced to file a WAIVER with the feds to make the new standards usable after she wiped the floor with us - and the legislature - to get them installed 'as is'.

I think part of the reason for this has to do with the influences Mrs. Hofmeister clearly found to be more important than just us regular moms from the very beginning - CCOSA, OEA and people like Angela Clark Little, the organizer of Oklahomans for Education PAC - an outgrowth of her group Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education (OPEPE) - who's current employment with American Fidelity Assurance Corporation puts her on the solid edge of Hofmeister's campaign controversy and who's worked very hard to meet her goals of pouring more money into public education using rhetoric, lies and bullying along with other public education activists under the hashtag #oklaed. 

One of my counterparts, Lynn Habluetzel, our Legislative Director, has similar thoughts:
I remember early on in Joy Hofmeister’s administration, sitting outside the Republican Caucus lunch waiting to catch some legislators to talk with. Joy was going in to speak to the caucus. She came over to speak to me. I had helped some on her campaign, raising money for yard signs in OKC, distributing them and mapping out where they should go. Joy said something about how she was so grateful for COSSA, she would have been lost without them – I am paraphrasing. I remember thinking that was unfortunate for our teachers and students that the administrator’s organization was again in power instead of an independent voice. This also made me realize the State Superintendent’s office is TOO BIG – if someone elected by the people must lean on institutional bureaucrats to run the organization. And it shows Joy Hofmeister chose the wrong people to associate with. This is why we keep failing even though the people work diligently to elect a “better” person to the position.
I sincerely doubt Mrs. Hofmeister has any inclination to take Representative Calvey up on his suggestion. I truly believe that, like so many other education elitists that have hit the lately-revolving door of the State Department of Education, she clearly believes that whatever she's done was necessary and right and helpful to public education in the state. Taxpayers - who knows? Kids - maybe she thinks so - who knows?

It'll be interesting to see how Mrs. Hofmeister fares in her job this next legislative session. She has incinerated some political capital at this point and SQ779 was SOUNDLY defeated probably in no small measure due to bullying by the #oklaed group. Maybe it would be less painful for her if she did step down early - again, who knows? All we know is that, until she pulls away from the people helping to cause the problems in Oklahoma education, she can't provide any real solutions.

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