Barresi, of Oklahoma City, has been Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction since January 2011. Hofmeister, of Tulsa, is a former public school teacher. Since 2000, she has been a small business owner and is a former member of the Oklahoma State Board of Education.
Dr. Tim Faltyn, Connors State College President, was the forum’s moderator. Faltyn prepared the questions presented during the debate, which was held at Indian Capital Technology Center.
In their opening statements, the candidates outlined their priorities for education in Oklahoma.
The education department is focusing “first and foremost on those things that children need to be very successful in the 21st Century,” Barresi said.
Reading is “really is the foundation of everything we are doing,” she said, adding that the department is also focused on the importance of accountability and expanding education choice for parents. The state education department also is developing ideas for character education, she said.
There is a long list of things that have to change within the state education department, Hofmeister said.
“At the top of my priority list is testing,” she said. “We must work to increase time on instruction, less time on testing.”
Accountability also is needed in Oklahoma.
“The A-F grading system is not working,” she said.
Local control of education is needed. Education reform is needed, she said, “but it’s only going to happen when you work together.”
Questions from the audience focused on several issues — whether the candidates attended the education funding rally at the state capitol on March 31, and would year-round school sessions improve the quality of education and make schools more financially efficient.
The four Democrats running for the state office include Jack C. Herron of Norman; John Cox of Hulbert; Freda Deskin of Edmond; and Ivan Holmes of Oklahoma City. The primary election is June 24.