BY SHARON MARTIN
Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed former private school administrator Michael Rogers to be his Secretary of State. Then, he named former private school administrator Michael Rogers to be his Secretary of Education. Looks good, doesn’t it? Two secretaries for the price of one!
Wait! Did our new governor just eliminate the position of Secretary of Education? Can he do that? How does this square with his plan to make Oklahoma a Top 10 education state?
In an interview with The Claremore Progress’s Kayleigh Thesenvitz, Stitt complained about wasteful spending in the Departments of Transportation, Education, and Corrections.
“We don’t have as high a quality,” he said. “So I know there is waste because we’re spending the same amount of money as every other state does.”
As much money as other states, huh?
According to Education Week, in 2018, Oklahoma spent $9,227 dollars per pupil. That’s more than 25% less than the national average of $12,526. One of the ways we spend less is to pack more and more students into a single classroom.
To cut waste, Gov. Stitt wants a financial audit of every single agency every year at a cost of about $50,000 per agency per year. He must be expecting an awful lot of waste.
And what waste would that be? Textbooks? Technology? Librarians? Those pesky principals?
Is privatization your goal, Gov. Stitt? It’s worked so well for the Department of Corrections, with guaranteed occupancy rates, record numbers of Oklahoma prisoners, and dangerously low levels of staff.
There’s a direct link between education funding and incarceration rates. How much does private profit siphon off money that should be spent in the classroom?
Forty percent of Americans are one missed paycheck away from poverty. These are working people. Will it be their children who benefit if we privatize?
The governor says he can make all this work our without raising revenue.
As if that’s not enough, Rep. Todd Russ’s HB 2214 would strip teachers of their licenses if they walk out of the classroom. Sen. Mark Allen’s SB 592 would require a $50,000 bond before any group of more than 100 people could assemble on Capitol grounds.
Sen. Allen, does that include more than 100 legislators?
How much will it cost the state to defend an attack on the right to peaceably assemble?
You thought the last eight years were hard on educators and education in Oklahoma! It’s a long way from No. 47 to Top 10, especially if we’re heading in the wrong direction.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. Her latest book, Not A Prodigal, is available through Barnes and Noble. Her recent children’s book, Froggy Bottom Blues, can be purchased in hardcover or paperback from Doodle and Peck Publishing and in paperback from Amazon.
Editor’s Note: Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his first State of the State address Monday at 12:30 p.m. It will be carried live by OETA, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority. Also on Monday, Still will submit his first budget proposal to state lawmakers.