BY DAVID PERRYMAN
Oklahoma’s own Will Rogers was what you might call a chili connoisseur. Even as a world traveler, he knew that when it came to chili, there were two places on earth that delivered the best of what he called “bowls of blessedness” and both were in Texas.
One was a little café in Coleman and the other was a small cannery in the back of the Lyman T. Davis Meat Market in Corsicana. Mr. Davis had begun marketing his chili as Lyman’s Famous Home Made Chili in 1895, but in 1921 he started canning it using the trade name Wolf Brand Chili in honor of his pet wolf, Kaiser Bill.
Even though the delicacy was not sold outside Texas during Will Rogers’ lifetime, Will was a good neighbor and to maintain his dietary intake of big, thick, steaming bowls of Wolf Brand Chili, he often stopped off at the Corsicana airport to pick up cases of the canned “blessedness.”
Unfortunately, voters in the Sooner State don’t exercise the same urgency in making sure that Oklahoma children are properly educated that Will Rogers had in making sure that he kept a good stock of chili on hand.
Neighbor, how long has it been since Oklahoma teachers were paid a fair wage? How long has it been since teachers had the professional respect that they deserve?
Well that’s too long … and sadly nothing’s going to change anytime soon.
Over the past eight years, Oklahoma has cut per pupil state aid funding for public schools more than any other state [nearly 25% after inflation] and Oklahoma has not increased the pay schedule for teachers since 2009. In 2016, the average pay for Oklahoma teachers is now third lowest in the nation and well below that of neighboring states, all according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.
So, when teacher vacancies grew beyond 1,000, did the supply and demand gurus in state government respond by paying more for a scarce commodity? Nope.
Instead, they further disrespected the teaching profession by recruiting “teachers” who were conditionally certified or provisionally uncertified or temporarily certified or emergency uncertified or conditionally uncertified or provisionally untrained or just plain old warm bodies.
This year, the state has issued close to 1,000 emergency teaching certifications resulting in more than one in six Oklahoma teachers being educationally unqualified, untrained in the teaching profession and teaching without a standard certificate.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma’s public schools were told that they would have to cut $47 million from their current budgets. Now an additional $19 million cut is possible as early as February. That translates to each school in the state having to cut current spending by about $39 per student.
It is just a coincidence, but if the governor would have agreed to delay the Jan. 1, 2016 income tax cut, $47 million more revenue would have been available between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2016 to help offset the current revenue failure.
Neighbor, how long has it been since Oklahoma voters have taken the time to hold the governor and their legislators accountable?
Well, that’s too long. 2016 is an important year. Register to vote Republican, Independent or Democrat. Study the issues. Vote in the best interest of the future of Oklahoma.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House