Education funding push

A teacher makes a sign during a rally for education funding at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Feb. 12, 2018. Revenue from higher state gross production taxes has far exceeded expectations, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

In the editorial "Oklahoma emergency certifications remain too high (July 5)," it correctly identified that "Oklahoma lawmakers caused this severe teacher shortage with a decade of budget cuts leading to stagnant wages, ballooning class sizes and elimination of supportive resources."

The situation, though, is worse than that.

Oklahoma lawmakers have disrespected teachers and reduced educational funding since at least 1982, which is when I first arrived in Oklahoma and shocked to hear on the local news that legislators had cut $50 million from the education budget. This has been the same happening every session thereafter, more or less.

Thirty-seven years is a long time. In all those years, Oklahoma has been near top in the nation for all the wrong reasons.

For this, blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Oklahoma legislators. They, and they alone, are responsible.

Teaching isn't easy for a skilled, highly qualified teacher in the chaotic environment of the Oklahoma public school system, let alone someone with no teaching experience certified in an emergency.

As a volunteer partner in education, I see the chaos and difficult environment in which teachers struggle. Were I a teacher, I would vote with my feet by going to a state where the pay and working conditions are much better.

Good luck to Gov. Stitt. Hopefully it won't take another 37 years to get Oklahoma public education back to where it was in 1982, before the $50 million budget cut.

 


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