( – promoted by DocHoc)
In 2007, none of us considered that Oklahoma was enjoying flush financial times; but, compared to today, the state had lots of money. That was also the year that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded the Sooner State with the following Report Card in education.
This butt-in-a-sling report card was posted on the Chamber website for the whole world to see while we Okies diddled ourselves with anti-immigration legislation, planned noodling tournaments and fantasized about the day when we could all wear loaded weapons to Wal-Mart.
We can all act shocked and indignant about the Chamber’s report, but other objective rankings show that Sooners are in the bottom 20% of the nation when it comes to per pupil spending in public education, as well as the bottom 20% in what we pay our teachers. We also have the wonderful distinction of being in the 30th percentile across the board in our student achievement scores. To our credit, 85% of Oklahomans will complete a high school education, but only 15% of us earn a bachelors degree. The fact is, most folks in our state are no better educated than a seventeen year old kid who earns mostly C’s and D’s.
Just remember all of this the next time you wonder why folks in Oklahoma are so easily managed by fear appeals against Muslims, immigrants, liberals and gays–and why motherhood can become a significant campaign issue in the selection of a governor. It’s all too easy for the political demagogues among us who seek to become kings among grasshoppers.
Now that we are in a financial crisis, the state has cut education budgets some three percent. In Oklahoma City and Tulsa, this means that nearly 600 teaching positions have been eliminated (Don’t worry, the football programs will do just fine!). At the same time, our newly installed GOP regime states that they intend to decrease our state income tax some four percent at a time when state revenues are at an all time low. When the dust settles, what this really means is that the state will cut education and social services even more.
Yes folks, we’re in a race to the bottom; and at the rate we’re going, it won’t be long before legislators like Rex Duncan (author of the anti-sharia law) will be considered a philosopher king.