Apart from the economy and jobs, the number one concern people in Oklahoma have is the future of our education system. While the Constitution of Oklahoma requires a free public education system and includes certain provisions for textbooks, for funding, etc., there are two major problems confronting our education system: mandates and budgets.
The federal government has become intrusive in our state education system. In fact, the U.S. Constitution has no provisions at all for the federal government to be involved in education, and Ronald Reagan had the abolishment of the Department of Education as a key plank in his policy platform.
Federal mandates, most of which are unfunded or underfunded, are tying our teachers hands and prohibiting them from being effective. Rather than teaching children how to think, learn, and reason, our teachers are being forced to teach our kids how to pass proficiency tests so that specific mandates are met.
Regarding our budgeting problem for schools, teachers and parents agree that we have too much administrative costs. By consolidating superintendents for some of the rural districts, we could save millions of dollars per year that could be redirected to our classrooms and for increases in teachers' salaries. In Oklahoma, we currently have three times as many school districts as the state of Colorado, even though we only have 3/4 the population they have.
Our children deserve better. Our teachers deserve better. We can no longer let our education system dilapidate at the expense of future generations. It can be fixed, but we need strong leadership willing to propose the necessary changes to best benefit our state and our students.