The incoming Republican House Speaker Charles McCall says he’s behind a plan to raise public school teacher salaries by $6,000 over three years, but there’s a major flaw in the proposal.
— NEA (@NEAToday) January 12, 2017
Here’s the basic flaw: Where is the money going to come from given that the state faces, as of now, a nearly $900 million budget shortfall for next fiscal year? The shortfall could grow in size as well, and I predict it will, unless President-elect Donald Trump and his Russian allies create so much world turmoil, fossil fuel prices take a dramatic jump. But then that just means more earthquakes for Oklahoma.
My argument is, at least for now, that this is just another Republican ruse to make people believe they’re concerned about Oklahoma’s brain drain when they’re getting just what they really want through GOP tax cuts for rich people, which is to drain government funding, especially for education, as much as possible. This way they can declare, along with their fanatical and wildly unpredictable leader Trump, a general failure of government while lying about their true intentions when they suggest raises for educators.
The real Republican position was recently expressed in an editorial in The Oklahoman, which argued “lawmakers should demand greater focus on cost savings and genuine benefit from expenditures” when it comes to requests for additional funding.
The editorial, for example, noted that the Oklahoma Department of Education has asked for a “$221 million increase, plus another $282 million increase for teacher pay raises . . .”, which is a pittance compared to how much school funding has been cut here since 2008 and how low teacher salaries are in Oklahoma. Then the editorial quoted and essentially supported Republican state Rep. Kevin Calvey, who was critical of the education department’s leadership, which he blusters have presented:
. . . no real solutions for streamlining our education system to make it more efficient and to target student needs . . . without accountability for how those dollars are spent related to education results.
In case you need an interpreter, this means that current Republicans lawmakers here try to educate students on the cheap and then complain when the state suffers chronic problems related to the lack of funding. This a deployment of a political tactic to destroy public education, not responsible governance as the great minds of The Oklahoman editorial board want us to believe.
The bottom line is that teachers shouldn’t expect much of anything from lawmakers this coming session, and they should continue to look outside the state for opportunities. This applies as well to all state workers.
Combine this grim local financial reality with the coming Trump autocratic dynasty and it’s not difficult to see where things are headed in our oligarchic nation. There has even been discussions about how to cut teacher benefits at the Capitol because, well, Republicans can do so, and they will.
Don’t believe Republicans, at this point, on state teacher raises just as we shouldn’t believe Trump’s qualifications of the full extent of his relationship with Russian leaders, who obviously aim to destroy democracy in the United States and have now found a powerful friend to do so.
Will those in Oklahoma and this country who voted in the state Republican super majority and their authoritarian leader Trump change their views when they lose their health insurance and their purchasing power and their jobs and when the Russians take control of major aspects of our government? Don’t count on it at this point.