The Oklahoman continues to deal in rhetorical demonization and deceit in its obsessive opposition to State Question 744, a proposed constitutional measure that if passed in November would simply fund state schools at the regional average.
No one can get a fair sense of what SQ 744 is about on the newspaper’s editorial page or in its news columns. At this point, The Oklahoman has forfeited any right to be taken seriously about the issue.
A recent editorial, (“NEA investing plenty in Oklahoma school funding initiative,” August 3, 2010), criticizes the National Education Association, which has apparently donated more than $3 million to help fund the Yes on 744 campaign. The editorial engages in fear mongering and omission.
Here’s the gist from the editorial:
Is there any organization more wedded to the status quo than the NEA? It bucks reform efforts at every turn – try getting rid of a bad teacher, for example. It sees the answer to every problem as nothing a little more money couldn’t solve.
Note that it’s the NEA’s fault about bad teachers and it’s all about problems “nothing a little more money couldn’t solve.” Where is the quantifiable research supporting these claims? Are bad teachers the fault of the NEA? That’s nonsense. Does the organization only care about money? That’s nonsense, too. Please, cite the evidence. The editorial doesn’t even pretend to do so.
The NEA is a 3.2 million-member organization of educators in this country. It was formed in 1857.
Here’s the NEA history:
In 1857, one hundred educators answered a national call to unite as one voice in the cause of public education. At the time, learning to read and write was a luxury for most children-and a crime for many Black children. One hundred and fifty years later, public education and the profession of teaching are transformed. In 1966 we joined forces with the American Teachers Association. Since then, our voice has swelled to 3.2 million members, and what was once a privilege for a fortunate few is now an essential right for every American child, regardless of family income or place of residence.
Since its beginning, the National Education Association has been ahead of its time, crusading for the rights of all educators and children. Learn more about NEA’s rich history, from welcoming Black members four years before the Civil War and electing a woman as president a full decade before Congress granted women the right to vote, to the 1966 merger with the American Teachers Association during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
Is The Oklahoman going to dispute this information? Why doesn’t it bring up this history of NEA as it vilifies one of the most important educational organizations in the nation?
So, really, are “welcoming Black members four years before the Civil War” and empowering women before they were even given the right to vote bad attributes under the worldview of The Oklahoman, which the Columbia Journalism Review once claimed has a blatant history of racism?
The point here is The Oklahoman won’t engage SQ 744 on its basic merits or just its basic idea. The measure would fund schools here at the regional average. Do The Oklahoman editorial writers believe regional average funding for schools here is a bad thing? Why? Should we continue to fund schools here at some of the lowest levels in the country? Why? The editorial writers will never thoroughly address these questions.
Recent studies shows Oklahoma is dead last in a seven-state region, which includes Arkansas and New Mexico, in per-pupil spending and 49th in the nation. Should we all be proud about that because, well, that awful NEA, it stands against racism and supports empowering women?
It’s only in historical character that The Oklahoman editorial writers denigrate an organization that was on the major forefront of educating African-Americans and giving women positions of authority.
So here’s the bottom line: SQ 744 is not a Republican or Democratic issue. You can be a conservative Republican and support the measure or you can consider yourself a progressive, liberal Democratic and oppose it. The Oklahoman, as it attempts to politicize the issue with its bag of clichés, has lost this one.
SQ 744 is about average funding on a regional level for the state’s school children. If voters here want that average funding, then they do. Ultimately, the issue is not about the NEA or the corporate interests, such as The Oklahoman, which oppose SQ 744. It’s about doing the right thing for Oklahoma school children.