November 6, 2018: 7 AM – 7 PM Election Day

We are just shy of two weeks until election day! This election cycle is being called the midterms. There are many issues to be decided on 6 November 2018, we have several state questions, we have a race for the governorship of the state of Oklahoma, we have seats in both the state and U.S. Senate, the state and US House of Representatives. I am not going to get into a political discussion as to who to vote for who not to vote for. I’m not going to save what does to answer on the state questions! I am going to ask every Oklahoman to go to the polls between 7 AM and 7 PM on 6 November 2018, and exercise your privilege to vote. If you decide to stay home and not exercise your privilege, casting a ballot and voting for one of the candidates or the state questions then I say to you that is your choice but do not complain about the government or who was elected as you chose not to participate. I also ask all Oklahomans to be civil, respectful of others, and pleasant to the poll workers. We are classier and have better manners than some of the folks on the East Coast.
By exercising your privilege and casting a ballot. You have one more function to do. No matter who is elected to the office, they deserve respect.
In order to make changes and improve our education system and raise the bar so that teachers and educators, and support staff are paid an adequate wage for the job they do. We must use the system that is in place to achieve these goals. It does not take a strike, walkout, forceful demonstration to get the attention of the legislature. Instead of leaving the classroom. Why don’t we try staying in the classroom and teaching the students how to effectively communicate with their representatives in office. A successful letter writing campaign from all grades K-12 and all of the students in those grades and dumped on the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives to prove what needs to be done would have more impact and gain more respect from the public, then to strike and be wishy-washy in your demands making you look like Oliver coming up to the headmaster with his bowl saying “please sir, and I have some more”! Solving the teachers inadequate pay will not happen overnight, it may take several years to finally be able to raise our standard pay higher than we are now and get ourselves into the top 10. What is more important getting a one time pay raise of six to $10,000 or raising the base pay of an entry-level educator, K-12 to to the rank of 15th Place, with a starting salary of $37,848 per year and an average salary of $48,670 per year. Those wages would be only the beginning. As the legislation would also allow for increases. The teachers pay package is just one of several packages that must be passed in order to fix our education system. When I was in school in the 50s 60s and 70s, families did not have to pay for items such as Kleenex, sanitizing wipes, notebook paper construction paper. All we were required to have or to have purchased was a number two pencil with an eraser and in elementary school. A big Chief tablet to write on. Teachers did not have to dig out of end of their pocket in order to decorate the room or provide the construction paper or the art supplies. We did not have school administrators making six figures a year and having all the perks of company car company phone get paid mileage and Per diem. The Board of Regents for higher Ed were also not making six figures a year. One of the things that I noticed when they passed House Bill 1017, which was supposed to give the teachers a raise and fix education was that the first thing it did was it raised the salaries of the Board of Regents of higher education, $167,000 a year. Oklahoma decided to devote a lottery to help fund education. So where does all that money go? It’s very simple $0.35 out of every dollar was to go to education majority of that money went to the Regents of higher education salary and the rest filtered down top to bottom. It was sad that the lottery was supposed to help fix education and all it did was raise the salaries of the Regents of Higher education and maybe a few professors in higher Education. It however,  had little if any effect on K-12. It is interesting that we continue to raise tuition yet our schools are still in trouble and I’m not just speaking of about K-12 it’s taking more and more money to run colleges and universities.
I urge everyone to go vote on November 6, 2018. Make your vote count and live with your choices! But don’t stop there for the legislature is paid by us to work for us. And while teachers are ranked 47th in the nation for pay, our legislatures are ranked 15th in the nation for their salary!

 

Education in Oklahoma

We are entering yet another election cycle where all the candidates are claiming they know how to fix education in the state of Oklahoma. I want to look at the problems facing the education system in the state of Oklahoma.

The rate at which we pay our elementary and secondary teachers in the state ranks 50th in the US. (https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/a-look-at-teacher-pay-across-the-united-states-in-2017.htm)

The amount of money the state puts into the classroom.

The sources of revenue for the education system in the state of Oklahoma.

This is in my own personal opinion the three top issues facing our education system in the state of Oklahoma. The ranking listed above with the state of Oklahoma being dead last in the 50 states even after the pay raise is frightening.

The methods to remedy the situation do not include another walkout by the OEA and other teachers unions. They also do not include demonizing sources of revenue as the way which would fix the low salary.

As the reader, you must decide which candidate you think would have the best interest of our students and our educators in their platform before you vote. I have gotten to the point where I do not listen to all the negative ads by the different candidates and organizations telling me how to vote. My standard is simply one of who has the most conservative values and supports the interests of all persons legally in our country.

I know one candidate has been in politics for as long as I have been able to vote. I also know that he supported national politicians that were not conservative and one of them did more to harm this country, then to help it. That candidate would not get my vote!

I have a unique idea, or at least I think it is. Form an independent committee of 13 people. The makeup of that committee would consist of educators in the K-12 system, higher education system, leading economists, and finally taxpayers in different age ranges. This committee, while having no authority to write legislation, would have access to the complete state budget. A review of each of the accounts in the budget, the sources of revenue for each account, and the last audit of each account. The next area that would be reviewed would be the budgets of all the school districts, the population of students in each district, the numbers of administrators in each district and their salaries, the fringe benefits of said administrators.

This committee would be nonpartisan, with no political agenda! A task force of this makeup that is unpaid, would be able to post their findings to the state website and forward recommendations for the solutions to our challenges in our education system to the people that actually write the legislation. The state legislature both House and Senate would then have a recommendation to follow to improve the issue.

And a word of advice to the state legislators, if you’re writing legislation dealing with fixing education. It should include no other items! Yes, there will be funding issues. Yes, there will be revenue issues in order to reach the funding goals. We elected you to represent us and it is high time that you get to work, set aside your political ambitions and arguments, address the issues at hand and fix the problem.

A word to the educators of the state of Oklahoma, the only thing that strikes do is hurt the students. When you close school to walkout because of a pay issue. What are you teaching the students. Do not think that I am against higher pay for our teachers! It saddens me to discover that we, after getting a paltry 6% increase over several years lands us in last place. According to the Bureau of Labor. I agree in order to maintain qualified and exceptional educators we have to raise the base pay. We also have to raise the level of education of our students!

Voters of Oklahoma, it is in your hands. Make sure that you go to the polls on November 6, 2018 and make your vote count!