Former teacher Kathy Hoffman (D) was elected as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, defeating Frank Riggs (R) last month.
“I feel very honored and privileged to have been elected into this position. I look forward to being an advocate for public education and elevating the voices of all of our students and teachers to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Kathy Hoffman said.
In order to advocate for public education, Hoffman has a variety of issues she plans to address as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Hoffman explained the teacher shortage is the biggest issue the Arizona education system faces.
“The way I see the department playing a role- in one of many ways to address that- [is] to work on teacher retention [and] help provide professional development to teachers across the state,” Hoffman said.
Multiple organizations and initiatives in Arizona address the issue of teacher attraction and retention.
Hoffman said, “what I want to know is, ‘Well, how can we expand these efforts? How can the department play a role to make sure we’re getting to every community, to rural Arizona?’”
Hoffman plans to work with organizations and leaders who work to improve education, but she also plans to partner with the business community.
“There are multiple opportunities to work with the business community because I know that they value having a well-trained workforce,” Hoffman said. “And so, I see them partnering in terms of readiness to enter a professional career.”
When the business community engages with students’ education, it can open their eyes to career opportunities and help prepare them for their future endeavors.
“I also think they have a place to help us in designing a sustainable source of funding for public education in the future because I know that’s of a huge concern,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman plans to audit the Arizona Department of Education to get its financials in order.
Hoffman said she has designated someone to lead the committee for the audit, who will recruit other accountants. The department will likely contract the audit out to an external auditor.
“We are in early stages of that planning process and I have spoken with the Governor and I’m really grateful for his support in doing this financial audit and look forward to seeing what the outcomes of that are,” Hoffman said.
The audit findings will allow the Arizona Department of Education to determine areas that need additional funding and decide where internal funding can shift.
As a formal special education teacher, Hoffman is committed to ensuring students with special education needs have the necessary resources.
She plans to have the department conduct a cost analysis of how much special education services cost Arizona school districts and charter schools.
“Once we have that data, then we can make better decisions of what funding is needed,” Hoffman explained.
As a concern to students, parents and community members, Hoffman plans to address the issue of school safety by focusing on social-emotional supports in the classroom.
“One way we can make our schools safer is by having more counselors in our schools and social-emotional supports because if we can improve on students feeling more connected to their schools and making sure that they have access to supports when they are in crisis,” Hoffman said.