Hofmeister convenes 2022 Student Advisory Council

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Carrie Burkhart
Director of Communications
(405) 521-3371, c: (405) 760-7881

Erin Corbin
Communications Specialist
(405) 521-3375

Annette Price
Communications Specialist
(405) 521-6647



Hofmeister convenes 2022 Student Advisory Council 

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 26, 2022) – High school students across Oklahoma met virtually with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister Tuesday to share concerns and offer suggestions on how to improve access, equity and outcomes in schools beyond the pandemic. 

This is the seventh consecutive year Hofmeister has convened her Student Advisory Council, a group of juniors and seniors to assist her and the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in matters of policy. Feedback from the council has been instrumental in state-level initiatives to provide teachers more professional development in trauma-informed instruction, replace end-of-course high school testing with the ACT or SAT, and pilot Individual Career Academic Planning. 

At their first meeting Tuesday, many students expressed concern over the inconsistency among educational services offered in rural schools compared to their urban and suburban counterparts, including a lack of higher-level courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP), and internet connectivity in schools and the community. 

“We don’t have enough teachers or enough students to enroll in AP classes,” said Geralyn Haney, a junior from Stuart High School. “We need more virtual resources because we have problems with internet all the time. One time I had to go sit in my car and hook up to my hot spot on my phone to take a test because the internet in my house was terrible. It’s not only terrible at my house. Sometimes it goes out at school, too.” 

Averie Amos, a senior at Stigler High School, echoed similar concerns about the lack of technology access in her community, which she said has improved over the last year. 

“When COVID first happened, my school, because of our size, didn’t have anything,” Amos said. “We all got Chromebooks last year, and we even have little wi-fi hot spots that if you didn’t have wi-fi, you can take home with you to work on your Chromebook for virtual days or if you have homework for school.” 

Luke Spradlin, a junior at Porum High School, cautioned not all schools are taking advantage of opportunities provided since the first full year of the pandemic, particularly when it comes to meeting physical and mental health needs.  

“Educators -- they need COVID days back. Some of our teachers are having to work sick because of their lack of sick days after having COVID,” said Spradlin, who observed that many small districts did not apply for the School Counselor Corps grants created through federal funds. He added that school counselors are limited in offering special services because they are frequently assigned non-counseling duties. 

Hofmeister commended the students on their candid observations within Oklahoma schools and stressed the importance of extending the $35 million School Counselor Corps initiative beyond the three-year matching grants schools received last fall. 

“These students have underscored how important teachers and counselors are to our schoolchildren, particularly throughout this pandemic,” Hofmeister said. “So many younger students have been disconnected from learning from each other and have not mastered the ability to self-regulate or maintain impulse control. We also know that our teens are struggling with mental health issues, and they need educators to guide them in college and career opportunities. There is a heightened need, now more than ever, to provide these kinds of behavioral supports to students.” 

Trinity Mcfadden, a junior at Seminole High School, said additional opportunities for students to talk to their school counselors could ease chronic behavior problems and decrease office referrals. 

"If you talk to the kid, listen to more of what they had to say, rather than just labeling them as this kid who is just constantly in trouble, it could help a lot,” Mcfadden said. “If you have someone to talk to, then it makes life a little bit easier.” 

Students said the rush to return to normal has made schools miss some advancements created in the pandemic. Elizabeth Crawford, a senior at Latta High School, considered herself fortunate to have a variety of learning options last year, including traditional, distance or hybrid. However, she said those options have been reduced back to in-person only this year. Now that COVID-19 cases are on the rise, schools are struggling to provide seamless instruction, she said. 

“The goal has always been to go back to the way things were. I'm not sure that's realistic anymore,” Crawford said. “The bouncing back and forth between in-person and virtual is really harmful. It's getting harder. When we go back and we fail, we end up at square one. Students and teachers need help accepting that changes in our learning are inevitable.” 

The students on the advisory council were recommended by their district superintendents. They represent rural, urban and suburban schools of all sizes across Oklahoma. Eighteen of the members also served on the council last year. 

Student Advisory Council


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Last updated on January 26, 2022