Editorial: State education dollars once again are diluted
BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, January 12, 2013
1/12/13 at 6:58 AM
Trish Williams, chief financial officer at Tulsa Public Schools, raised an interesting question this week and most people who value public education would like a straight answer - not a virtual one.
As state law stands - thanks to the Legislature and Oklahoma Department of Education - online, for-profit charter schools now are allowed to receive funds. Students who formerly got up and went to school can remain home and take algebra in their pajamas in the privacy of their homes.
For the second year in a row, expansion of those online charter schools drew a significant share of funds that traditionally had been divided up and distributed among public schools.
"As long as our state laws allow for these for-profit entities to come in, it's a good question to ask, 'Where it will end?' The pie is only so big," Williams said.
Instead of being divided into, say, six slices, that pie now gets sliced into many more pieces. Dollars that once went for that red brick neighborhood school now can also go into the ether for online charter school instruction.
There may be a place for online public education for high school students. But how far can dollars for common education stretch? Is the Legislature headed in the direction of all-virtual schools - traditional bricks-and-mortar schools be damned? There's already been a move to provide vouchers to private schools.
Common education is struggling - back to 2008 dollars, and has seen costs increase. And now for-profit companies are in the picture and also clamoring for dollars.
The state aid allocation for TPS fell more than $1.4 million from the Department of Education's initial allocation amount. Suburban schools, which have had growth in enrollment, are struggling, with private donors chipping in to provide for things once paid for with state appropriations.
We've said it before and we will say it again, public education is under assault in Oklahoma - in some instances from the very people - lawmakers and the state superintendent - who should be its biggest champions.
How far is the Legislature willing to go in dividing up the pie? If you're a supporter of public education you might not like the answer.
Original Print Headline: Pie divided