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Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt joins weekly Twitter chat on education

Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt poses for a selfie with students at Altus High School while campaigning last year. [The Oklahoman archives]
Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt poses for a selfie with students at Altus High School while campaigning last year. [The Oklahoman archives]

On the campaign trail, Kevin Stitt promised a Top 10 education system without ever specifying what measurements he had in mind. On Sunday, he asked educators how they would define it.

“I'd love to read from #oklaed participants how you'd like to see Oklahoma define #TopTen success in education,” the Republican governor-elect said on Twitter before joining a weekly education chat.

"How do we measure it? Do you focus on ACT/SAT scores? NAEP scores? graduation rates?”

Some chat participants criticized the governor-elect for not having his own definition of Top 10 metrics.

But many others offered ideas that included reading proficiency growth rates, college remediation rates and ACT or SAT test scores.

Most of the chat participants are teachers and school administrators, including many who participated in last year's teacher walkout.

During Sunday's chat on Twitter Stitt asked for suggestions on how to improve reading rates and many said a holistic response to student poverty was needed.

“This is where the long-term goal of lifting kids from childhood poverty and homes of poverty will really have an impact. By far and away, the largest and most consistent barrier to success is poverty,” tweeted Tyler Bridges, a former school administrator and associate director of the K20 Center, a statewide education research organization.

Stitt said he mostly wanted to hear ideas from the education community.

However, he offered some of his own thoughts, including a desire to be a top state in teacher recruitment and remove “unnecessary red tape so school districts and teachers have the ability to be successful.”

Many chat participants said the expected growth in state revenue should be used to increase the education budget.

While Stitt has said he plans to spend more money on public schools, including another teacher pay raise, he urged cautious optimism concerning the state's growing economy.

“This revenue growth is a good sign that Oklahomans are gainfully employed, our economy is expanding and opportunities are growing,” Stitt tweeted. “Oklahoma's tax base is strong. But we must also recognize that this figure was based on a higher oil price than seen today.

“More government money is not the answer alone. We must pursue reform that empowers local communities. We need families engaged, working together (with) the school to help every child. We need to not fear data and its potential to unlock better understanding.”

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who is a regular chat participant, praised Stitt and other elected officials for joining in Sunday's conversation.

"It was impressive to see the #oklaed chat draw not only Governor-elect Stitt, but also Lieutenant Governor-elect Pinnell, Speaker (Charles) McCall and many legislators of both parties," Hofmeister told The Oklahoman in an email.

Hofmeister said Stitt has shown an eagerness to be deeply involved in helping Oklahoma schools improve.

“I am excited to work with Gov.-elect Stitt in making Oklahoma a top state in public education," Hofmeister said. "His engagement with those on the front lines of education is both encouraging and reflective of what I have seen in my interactions with the governor-elect. He and his team are collaborative and eager to make a positive difference."

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›