Most agree that Oklahoma teachers are poorly paid, with several studies ranking their compensation near the bottom of all states. However, when cost of living is factored in (as it should be), their ranking improves to 30th.
Spending also doesn’t directly correlate with high educational performance. Some states with low per pupil spending rank reasonably well, while some of the highest don’t always produce the best education results. That contrast is also seen when comparing the United States to other countries. We spend more than almost everyone but don’t have nearly the test scores and graduation rates to match.
Higher education waste is even worse. Oklahoma spends 1.9% of its GSP Gross State Production) on higher education while the national average is 1.6% That’s a difference of almost 20%. If we reduced spending to that 1.6% figure, the state would save more than $500 million. Part of that money could be spent (if it’s not returned to the taxpayer) on K-12 teacher salaries.
The answer then is not more spending, but wiser spending. For example, reduce our non-teaching overhead from 4th highest in the country to the national average (a savings of $328 million). Require state university professors to teach more classes, instead of the top 20% carrying most of the load (a savings of $181 million). Don’t hire diversity czars at $220,000 per year (OU) while your university president pushes tuition and tax increases. Don’t spend $1.5 million on a new press box and supply every middle and high school student with a new MacBook while reducing your staff and limiting those remaining to a four-day work week (Catoosa). Eliminate the $88 million tax credit for wind producers, most of whom are located outside the United States.
Future columns will examine options to improve our state’s educational system. For now, don’t cripple Oklahoma and its youth."
~ Tim Bakamjian - Just Say No to SQ 779
Opinion of the Editor
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David Van Risseghem is the Director of Sooner Politics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...