In The Know: Superintendent Hofmeister weighs in against four-day school weeks

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Districts weighing four-day school weeks, but Superintendent Hofmeister says it’s bad for kids: A sudden surge in public schools looking to entice teachers and squeeze more out of limited budgets by moving to a four-day week could change the way thousands of Oklahoma students learn. But State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister isn’t pulling punches on the subject — she says any benefits are questionable at best and believes the scheme is detrimental to academic instruction. According to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, at least 35 school districts are already shortening their school weeks year-round [Tulsa World].

Sales tax increase for education not a good solution, some say: Tulsa’s mayor and others have concerns about the impact of a proposed state sales tax increase to fund education improvements. But all say more money should be found for education, particularly teacher pay. Click here! Mayor Dewey Bartlett said he opposes the proposal because an increase would push Tulsa toward the top among cities for sales taxes [Tulsa World]. While some critics say Oklahoma teacher pay can be increased without any new taxes, their plan doesn’t add up [OK Policy].

Does state need a boom-and-bust fund?: Oklahoma has a Rainy Day Fund that can be used to close budget holes when state tax revenues decline. But that fund alone will not be enough to solve state budget problems caused by lagging oil prices. Oklahoma faced a $600 million budget hole this year, and a gap at least that large is expected next year. Although the state’s economy is more diverse than it once was, the energy industry still dominates. It is prone to boom and bust cycles, and when it is down, ripple effects are felt in other sectors [NewsOK].

Oklahoma higher education institutions cutting costs, sharing resources: Higher education officials across Oklahoma are taking steps to cut costs as they brace for a huge state budget shortfall next fiscal year. Some of Oklahoma’s 25 public colleges and universities are sharing faculty and looking at joint-degree programs where one institution provides the general education and the other the technical courses. On one campus at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, cost-cutting steps include the consolidation and elimination of offices and programs and leaving 10 vacant positions unfilled — one faculty and nine staff [NewsOK].

Song for my father (Neglected Oklahoma): Head east on I-40. Go past Midwest City and Tinker, out to where the hills roll down to creeks lined with trees and the land is green. Get off at the Prague exit and follow the signs to Boley. Stop by the Dairy Queen. Five miles out of town, turn right down a long gravel road and park near the barn. Give your dad a hug and unload the groceries you brought. Your dad smiles. You’ve been his lifeline for years now [OK Policy].

Legislators analyze prolonged drought still affecting much of Oklahoma: Despite heavy spring rains, Oklahoma is still in the grips of a protracted drought, state legislators were told this month. Lake Texoma, for example, was swollen with floodwaters earlier this year but today is 2 feet below normal, said J.D. Strong, executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. A discussion of Oklahoma’s current and projected future water supplies was conducted by the state House of Representatives on November 16 in an interim legislative study that focused on drought conditions and potential ways to redistribute water from eastern to western Oklahoma [CapitolBeatOK].

Poll shows more than half of Oklahomans support life sentences over the death penalty: A Sooner Poll survey found that more than half (52 percent) of Oklahomans support giving those who would typically receive the death penalty a sentence of life without the possibility of parole instead. A similar poll from The Oklahoman from last month found that while support for the death penalty in Oklahoma is still higher than the national average, opposition to capital punishment is at an all time high in the state [NewsOK].

Syrian refugee policy provokes debate among Oklahomans: If recent measures of public opinion are accurate, it seems most Republican conservatives in Oklahoma lean strongly against admitting refugees fleeing from the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS). However, there are some dissenting voices indicating deep sympathy for the thousands trying to escape. U.S. Rep. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, is one of the best-known among conservatives nationwide calling for policymakers to find a way to assist in refugee resettlement [CapitolBeatOK]. An Oklahoma City screen-printing shop is printing tshirts reading “Refugees Are Welcome Here,” with the shape of Oklahoma encapsulating the last word, for  anyone who brings in their own shirt [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“I would argue that this is not good for kids — I think it’s going to cause students to lose momentum. There is clearly a saturation point by lengthening the school day, where you are going to exhaust students, and then they have three days before they come back and revisit what is being taught.”

-State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, arguing against the 4-day school week being considered by a growing number of Oklahoma school districts to deal with budget cuts (Source)

Number of the Day


Graduation success rate of Oklahoma State University football players (defined as earning a degree within 6 years of entering school). The graduation success rate of University of Oklahoma football players was 65 percent.

Source: NCAA

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Food insecurity linked to numerous bad health outcomes: Children in households lacking adequate access to food are at least twice as likely to be in fair or poor health as other children, a new review of research on the link between “food insecurity” and health finds. Food insecurity among children is also linked to greater risk of asthma, anemia, cognitive and behavioral problems, depression, and worse overall health. The patterns are similar for adults, especially seniors. With roughly 50 million Americans in food-insecure households, these findings highlight the importance of SNAP (formerly food stamps), which “substantially reduces the prevalence of food insecurity and thus is critical to reducing negative health outcomes,” the paper explains [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.