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20th Century School Budget Won’t Fulfill 21st Century Needs

September 20, 2014

Article published in Duncan Banner September 19, 2014.

20th Century School Budget Won’t Fulfill 21st Century Needs!
Inadequate funding of Oklahoma’s educational system is akin to this state’s inequality of wealth when it comes to schooling. Last week, headlines in our newspapers proclaimed that one in five jobs created in Oklahoma is in gas and oil production. The majority of the remaining four are in the service sector. Those are jobs that do not pay a wage which raises employees above the poverty level in income. Another dilemma of service jobs rests in the fact that most comprise only 20-29 hours per week employment. At $7.25 per hour, a single person’s income is still below the poverty level. How can a family of two-to-four or more individuals put enough food on the table to send their children off to school alert and ready to learn?
Our conservative legislators, both federal and state, have proclaimed that the poor skills our students have upon graduating from high school is the fault of the teachers. Shifting blame onto another segment of public employment seems to be the favorite pastime of our elected officials. They need to read all of the studies which prove that children do not learn when they are hungry. They also do not get enough restful sleep when they go to bed hungry. These two facts, combined with parents working two or more jobs in an attempt to provide for their families, is a substantial reason for the sub-standard education which too many of Oklahoma’s youth are receiving.
The Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce has recently issued a less-than-stellar report on the status of Oklahoma’s educational program which stated, “Oklahoma earns a failing grade (F) on academic achievement for low-income and minority students.”
Another report indicated, “45 percent of high school graduates who apply for and are accepted into institutions of higher learning have to take remedial classes in reading comprehension and math before starting their core courses of study. A recent blog by okeducationtruths pointed out that the Oklahoman’s graphic description of public schools versus charter schools was skewed because it used only schools in high-poverty areas. The author selected two schools to compare – one in an affluent district and one a high-poverty area. The remediation rates ranged from 15% for the “rich” school versus 55% for the “poor” school.
Blaming the perceived dismal performance of Oklahoma’s students on the teachers is a worn out excuse. TEACHERS are not the problem in Oklahoma; it is CHILDREN going to bed and to school HUNGRY!
Without competent leadership from the Governor, Oklahoma State Legislature and Superintendent of Public Instruction through the Oklahoma Education Department, there is little hope of correcting this problem.
According to the State Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma also performs below-average on collecting and reporting quality education data. The lack of that data means inconclusive information is made available to parents which doesn’t allow them to track their children’s’ progress accurately.
The Chamber also commented on Oklahoma’s very low grade when preparing students to compete in the global economy. They pointed out that on average, only 24% of Oklahoma’s students are proficient in reading and math when compared to international standards.
Formulas used in the allocation of funds are antiquated and grossly out-of-proportion to inflation and the increase in student population. Currently, funds allocated to purchase needed text books have to be used for fuel and maintenance to keep school buses running. This is a prime example of this antiquated allocations system.
21st Century allocation formulas – with funding based on student population and inflation – will strengthen our teachers’ abilities to provide a well-rounded education to all students!


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