When voters here rejected raises for teachers in Tuesday’s election it sent a powerful message to the state’s Republican-dominated government that schools, colleges, students and basically all facets of education do not matter to a vast majority of Oklahomans.
— Yes For 779 (@YesFor779) November 9, 2016
Consequently, Oklahoma will remain in just about last place in the nation for teachers to work. As I wrote earlier, if you’re a teacher or any type of educator here you need to consider your options to get out of this place. This isn’t hyperbole. Sure, some but not many teachers and especially education administrators have decent gigs. Stay put and enjoy the earthquakes and dealing with the right-wing extremists, but the vast majority of teachers should get out NOW.
When the president of the state’s flagship research university—the University of Oklahoma’s David Boren—proposes an idea to improve education because of a truly emergency situation and the voters shoot it down, well, it’s time to leave. The priorities are more than askew. They’re unsustainable.
What was especially discouraging was the lukewarm support from the liberal community here for education, but then are some self-described liberals here really liberal or are they just masqueraders? I know they can be dangerously sanctimonious. They got big ideas about change and how to do things. They’re oh so smart. Well, change is coming. They got a heavy dose of it this time around.
State Question 779, which would have given our poorly paid teachers $5,000 a year raises, really a paltry sum given what many other states pay teachers, was rejected by about 60 percent of those people voting Tuesday. The basic count was 852,641 opposed and 582,505 in favor, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board. The measure would have generated more than $600 million a year for the teacher raises and given some of the money to higher education, early childhood education and vocational education.
I could parse through this disastrous loss in horse-race journalistic language, referring to the misleading, last-minute television ads opposing SQ 779 and the role of the conservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs in the deceit, but what’s the point? I also don’t think the SQ 779 campaign leaders really understood the depth of the overwrought sanctimonious “liberal” argument against the measure and didn’t respond to it. I tried to tell them. They wouldn’t listen.
A majority of Oklahomans, including many people who identify themselves as liberals, just don’t care enough about education to do anything about our underfunded schools or our poorly paid teachers. Some self-described liberals or progressives will continue to lament how so many of our teachers are fleeing the state, but they won’t do one thing to change the situation. They whine, they complain, they shake their heads, but they will NOT do anything but wag a finger in your face.
I heard their I’m-a-better-person-than-you argument:
But, Kurt, the legislature needs to do its job. A one cent increase in the state sales tax is just not the way to fund teacher raises and higher education. It’s so terribly, horribly regressive for low-income people. I’m for the people, man. I’m the good, moral person here. You’re not. You’re against poor people. Our cities already have high sales taxes.
Next time you go to Bricktown to watch the fast-food restaurant wrappers and the vomit chunks float down the canal, all made possible by city sales taxes, think about that great math teacher packing up a U-Haul to get the hell out of this cesspool of illogic. Think about the wonderful biology teacher who will no longer inspire students to become the doctors that we need here for better medical access. Think about the adjunct professors teaching six, eight courses, just trying to pay the rent.
Oh yeah, Donald Trump won more than 65 percent of the vote here in Oklahoma. It was a YUGE night for him, not so much for Oklahoma teachers and public education. Talk about regressive.
All those self-described liberals who didn’t vote at all are going to get just what they deserve when Trump loads the U.S. Supreme Court with regressive. For those of you who voted against crazy and in favor of SQ 779, make your escape plans from this regressive place now. The earthquakes are just starting, not ending, and it’s so so regressive.
(Next post: Some positives from Tuesday’s election.)