Hofmeister wants governor’s funds to focus on ‘digital divide’ in rural Oklahoma

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister talks to attendees at a town hall in Muskogee on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Gov. Kevin Stitt will have nearly $40 million in emergency education stimulus funds to spend in the coming months and the state Department of Education would like him to focus on closing the digital divide, especially in rural communities. 

In a letter to the governor, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said her goal for the funds would be to “ensure continuous learning through the remainder of this school year and into the summer and be prepared for a seamless 2020-21 school year.”

Stitt will have the final decision on how the funds are spent. 

While Stitt has not said how he plans to spend the stimulus funds, he has expressed interest in putting some money towards a tax credit program that pays for private school tuition

Hofmeister’s proposal does not include that program. 

Hofmeister recommended that Stitt focus on closing the digital divide when it comes to distance learning programs and expanding AP course access to students in rural communities through an online platform. 

“Oklahoma has the opportunity to close the widening gap between students with greater continuity of learning – those with home internet access – and those who do not have such resources,” Hofmeister wrote. “By leveraging the partnerships described in this proposal, Oklahoma can be a model for other states in strategic use of relief funds.”

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Ben Felder

Based in Oklahoma City, Ben Felder joined The Frontier in 2019 and covers education and politics. He previously covered education and government as an investigative reporter at The Oklahoman before becoming the newspaper’s news director. Felder can be reached at ben@readfrontier.com. Follow him on Twitter @benfelder_okc
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