It's no secret. As Oklahomans we love to say we’re number one. This is especially true when it comes to our football and basketball teams. We expect our teams to be in the hunt for the national title every single year – anything less is unacceptable.
But we're number one in an area that I'm not too proud of – we’re number one in the country in cuts to education funding. No other state has cut funding more deeply than Oklahoma since 2008.
Imagine if our state’s education funding were a football team, we’d be outraged. We’d want something done about it. And we would want it done immediately. We certainly wouldn’t allow years to go by before we took action.
Yet every morning when I read the news, I hear about how another school is having to lay off teachers – or how a school district is having to go to a four-day week.
This is unacceptable, and something has to change.
This year we have the chance to invest in our children, and that’s why I'm supporting State Question 779. If passed in November, the measure would invest around $615 million annually in Oklahoma schools – all the way from pre-k to college and career. This is especially crucial in a time when our schools have been facing cuts.
SQ 779 is a constitutional change, meaning the funds are protected and can’t be used for other purposes. It’s also a long-term, comprehensive funding source. Finally, to ensure taxpayer transparency, annual audits will be required.
In the coming weeks we’ll be covering the different components of SQ 779, including:
- The $5,000 teacher pay increase
- The college tuition freeze
- The expansion of career training
- The plan to improve reading
If we really want to be number one in education, we need to begin investing in our children – and this fall we’ll have the opportunity to make history.