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!

When the Tail Wags the Dog

To begin with, I wanted to be known that I support education, full funding of the classroom, and an increase in teachers’ pay to bring us (the state of Oklahoma) from the bottom of the heap to at least equal to if not higher than the surrounding states. Education system in Oklahoma has long sense lacked proper funds. We rank 49th in the US for teacher salary. Which is sadly inadequate and has caused many quality educators to leave the state for the surrounding states, Texas being the biggest recipient, due to that low pay. Having stated my support for education I now have to say to the OEA, enough is enough. You called for a walk out with a list of demands that the legislature worked hard to meet. With landmark legislation raising taxes (sadly that it had to come to that title of landmark) the first thing they did was to pass a raise in pay. You asked for $10,000 a year, you are not satisfied with $6000 a year to begin with. Other legislation was passed to fully fund the raises unlike previous years where raises were given but never funded. But that still wasn’t enough for you to go back to the classroom. Now you demanded that all cutbacks in education were to be restored. You demand that the legislature restore the five-dollar tax on hotel stays to fund the classroom. You demand the elimination of the capital gains tax exemption. Your President has appeared on Facebook live giving the appearance of an angry person, demanding every need be met immediately. Her comments at the capital continue to make it look like the teacher’s union, OEA, is more interested in money then in education. I know this is not true, teachers are tired of being lied to by politicians that run on the principle of fixing the educational system yet failing to do so. When verbalizing my discussed with the continued walk out to a retired teacher of 40 years tenure, I was lectured that had she been able to she would have been at the capital with her peers. She was there in 1990 that got House Bill 1017 past but was unable to be there this time. She then told me that I shouldn’t blame the teachers for their actions when the disparity in pay is enormous. “It is amazing that we are 49th in the US in teacher salary, but 15th in the US for the salary of our legislators”. With that bit of information, I rethought my position, and began to look at the whole picture again. The title of this piece, When the Tail Wags the Dog, comes from the idea that a union should tell the legislative body of a state or of the US government how to do its job. The same analogy can be used in how insurance companies are successfully telling physicians how to practice medicine. It doesn’t work, and it actually causes more problems and increases costs while decreasing quality. Another issue is for the teachers to understand that their walkout was successful to a point, they are now approaching a point where the educational system will begin to lose federal funds, students will miss state testing deadlines, and the school year will be in jeopardy. Seniors in high school expected to graduate on time but now that may be delayed. This phrase was used on the steps of the state capital day after day after day “enough is enough”. Teachers the legislators have heard you, the public supports you, now it’s time to go back to work and do what you do best which is educate. Legislators it’s up to you to do the job that you were elected to do, you are public servants, you are no different in your profession as the teachers are in their profession! It’s high time that you start acting like a public servant more than an elitist. You were elected to do a job, you politicize the process pointing fingers across the aisle on both sides, were I grading your performance over the past 20 years I’m afraid I would have to give it an F minus. State legislators, it’s time to do what is right. Fully fund education here on out. Failure to do so will cause you to lose your jobs. Midterm elections are coming, and the movement is spreading. To our elected officials in the US government, I say the same thing. Get it done right. Quit playing petty politics with the security of our nation, balance the budget and reform the healthcare system. You want to find extra money to help balance the budget consider taking a pay cut, paying for your own health care, paying for your own retirement. And the state and federal entitlement programs to legislators. Folks you’re no better than the rest of us!

For those of you reading this, you can agree or disagree with my opinion because that is your right. It is however my opinion, and I am allowed to express it. Feel free to comment for that is your right.