On January 12, 2015, Joy Hofmeister of Tulsa was sworn in as Oklahoma’s 14th State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In her first year and a half in office, Hofmeister has championed a host of education reforms, including a repeal of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind, arguing against its “one-size-fits-all” approach to public education.
Those efforts were successful in December 2015, when Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), returning much of the authority for developing education policy to states and local districts. In February 2016, Hofmeister was one of four, and the only state education chief, invited to testify on ESSA before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, advocating for strengthened state accountability for student academic performance without excessive and unnecessary federal overreach. In addition, she is a stalwart advocate for increased teacher pay and increased time for teaching and learning for Oklahoma schoolchildren. In her first month in office, she proposed the #OKHigh5 plan to increase teacher compensation to the regional average and days of instruction to the national average.
In her two legislative sessions as state superintendent, Hofmeister has led a number of successful efforts to improve public education in Oklahoma despite steep revenue failures. In spring 2016, she piloted a plan to provide the ACT for every high school junior in Oklahoma at no cost to students or districts. She was a chief architect of House Bill 3218, now law, which mandated significant strengthening to the A-F school accountability system, repealed the seven End of Instruction (EOI) tests and replaced them with a new plan to ensure high-value assessment tools, less time testing, more time for rich instruction, personalized learning and multiple pathways to college and career readiness.
Hofmeister's strategic plan and state goals center on lowering remediation, raising graduation rates and lifting educational achievement for all students – from those with unique learning struggles to those in need of greater challenge – with a keen eye on closing opportunity and equity gaps individually.
Days after taking office in 2015, she moved to strengthen the standards-making process for mathematics and English language arts, insisting on greater transparency and wider collaboration with stakeholders. The new rigorous, inclusive and Oklahoma-centered academic standards were adopted in March and will be implemented and assessed in the 2016-2017 school year.
In addition, under Hofmeister’s leadership, new laws have been enacted that strengthen the Reading Sufficiency Act, improve student safety, reduce bureaucratic red tape and combat the teacher shortage.
Hofmeister is a former public school teacher and small business owner. As an appointee of Gov. Mary Fallin, she served on the Oklahoma State Board of Education from January 2012 through April 2013. In the private sector, Hofmeister spent 15 years as a business owner of Kumon Math & Reading Centers, which utilize parent partnerships to ensure high academic achievement for children. At Kumon, she personally worked with more than 4,000 students to improve their educational outcomes.
Hofmeister serves on dozens of commissions and state boards, chairs the State Board of Education and State Board of Career and Technology Education, is a regent for the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) and serves the Board of Equalization, Commission of the Land Office, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, and Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness/Smart Start Oklahoma, among others.
The mother of four graduates of Oklahoma’s public school system, Hofmeister maintains a residence in Tulsa with her husband of 31 years, the Honorable Gerald L. Hofmeister.