OUR VIEW: Students worth money
Oklahoma’s per-pupil education funding is shameful.
The state’s expenditure of $6,900 per student is far below Oklahoma’s neighboring states’ average spending of $8,300 per pupil, and it puts Oklahoma 48th in the country for such spending.
Thus, we are happy the Oklahoma HOPE (Helping Oklahoma Public Education) Ballot Initiative is gaining support.
If passed, HOPE Ballot Initiative, or State Question 744, will amend Oklahoma’s constitution to require the state legislature to fund public education to a minimum of the per-pupil average of neighboring states. (See page 11 for details.)
This is an important initiative because education is a big issue in this election though it is getting little attention.
Oklahoma education is is chronically underfunded by the Oklahoma legislature, which, by the way, has plenty of money.
In the first quarter of the new fiscal year, the state has collected 106.5 percent of its expected earnings and has $169.9 million more than it needs to pay its bills, according to a press release from State Treasurer Scott Meacham.
If the HOPE Ballot Initiative passes, it will force legislators to pay attention to where they are shoveling funds and make them send some toward education, which sorely needs money.
If the referendum is improved, Oklahoma legislators need to do everything they can do improve public education as they fund it more.
Legislators need to spend money allotted for education more equitably. Instead of passing across-the-board education spending increases, legislators should allocate funds where they are desperately needed, like rural school sthat struggle just to keep their doors open.
It also is important for the state to retain quality graduates to stay in the state to teach. With extra funding and good instruction for students, we think the quality of education in Oklahoma public schools will improve dramatically.
Oklahomans must vote for the HOPE Ballot Initiative. There is no reason other states should embarrass Oklahoma, especially when it comes to education.