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Oklahoma State Questions 744 and 754

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For information on the Oklahoma State Questions up for vote next Tuesday see http://www.ok.gov/elections/documents/sq_gen10.pdf.

I'm voting YES on SQ# 744 and NO on SQ# 754, which was added to negate SQ# 744 and prevent it from ever coming up for vote again. If SQ# 754 is approved, it can NEVER be repealed. 'Never' greatly bothers me.

SQ# 744 repeals the constitutional requirement for spending at least $42 per public school student-year. SQ# 744 adds a requirement for spending at least as much as the regional average per student-year. It allows three years for this to happen. "The measure deals with money spent on day-to-day operations of the schools and school districts. This includes spending on instructions, support services and non-instruction services." It does not detail how the money is to be spent, but leaves it up to the discretion of the local school boards. According to an OK Gazette article, "... the proposition mandates that the Education Oversight Board and Office of Accountability publish annual reports on how the allocation is spent and student achievement results."

Proponents say that the needed funds can come from the excessive tax credits given by the state. You can see these at http://www.tax.ok.gov/it2009/511CR-09.pdf. I think a few are valid, many are outrageous, and most are a lobbyist delight.

I'm in favor of SQ# 744 because the measure removes funding control of public school education (K-12) from the whims of state politicians and gives it to the local school districts. Over the last several decades, I can recall many public school initiatives that voters demanded and approved in hopes of providing a competitive education for their children. These were all funded and then, several years later, unfunded by the state politicians. Last year alone they raided the school funds for $200 million. Ever wonder what happened to the school-earmarked additional money from the lottery--effectively gone to the state's general fund. The yearly and seemingly arbitrary funding changes create nightmarish situations for the local school districts, teachers, and students.

I say it's time to get the Oklahoma state politicians out of public school funding.
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