See Student Life for more
- Spanish - Site Map - Contact
Union Student Safety HelpLine
Originally posted June 25, 2012
BY World's Editorials Writers
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an enodorsement.)
Earlier this year a group of public education supporters - there are plenty of them outside the Legislature - started a campaign called "49th Isn't OK," which highlights the discouraging realities of ranking next to the bottom nationally in per-pupil education spending.
Last week, updated U.S. Census Bureau figures showed that Oklahoma has made great strides in improving per-pupil spending (we're kidding). The state now has the fourth-lowest per-pupil spending in the country. Let's be clear, 45th or 46th isn't OK, either.
Oklahoma spends $7,896 per student each year, $2,700 less per child than the national average of $10,615. Oklahoma only spent more than Utah ($6,064), Idaho ($7,106) and Arizona ($7,848). Washington, D.C., spent the most: $18,667.
"It's disappointing," said Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association. "We've got to do better."
We agree, but how exactly is that going to happen with standstill appropriations from the Legislature, decreased help from Uncle Sam and the depressing prospect that next legislative session, lawmakers, prodded by Gov. Mary Fallin, will cut personal income taxes even more.
"If you look at academic results, per-pupil spending doesn't necessarily correlate to good academic results," clucks Damon Gardenhire, the mouthpiece for Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi. "Most people would agree Washington, D.C., is ... very challenged academically," he said.
One question: How would Oklahoma know if higher per-pupil spending does or does not correlate with good academic results? We've been in the cellar in this category so long that down looks like up.
Gardenhire suggests that lawmakers, educators and the public need to have a conversation about how to efficiently and effectively spend public money on education. Will that little talk include the word "vouchers?" Will one of the talking points be doing away with extracurricular activities and non-core subjects such as art and music? Would Oklahoma be even more efficient if the pupil-to-teacher ratio were, say, 45-to-1?
Oklahoma school districts, by necessity, are trying to make the best of a bad situation - making do with little, making all their own clothes and clipping coupons, so to speak.
Fourth-lowest spending per pupil is better than next to last, but Oklahoma still is every bit a bottom feeder when it comes to funding education.