BASIC INFORMATION ON
OKLAHOMA PUBLIC EDUCATION
When examining the status of education in Oklahoma, it's
est to start with the basics. The 2015-2016 Oklahoma Public Schools Fast Facts document provides a general overview of the state of our educatio
n system, and it can be viewed at this link
. Additional information can be found by clicking this link:
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Take note of these trends over time:
* Although there was a funding increase two years ago, the number of students continues to increase while funding declined again this year.
* Schools with large numbers of students from low-income families, with special needs, or for whom English is a second language, face extraordinary educational challenges.
* The number of students per teacher is increasing while teacher pay remains stagnant.
For an extensive look at public education in Oklahoma, click to review the Oklahoma Policy Institute's full coverage on education. In preparation for the 2017 legislative session, it might be helpful to read their article describing how the current funding system for education works.
HOW ARE OUR STUDENTS FAIRING?
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, in conjunction with the KIDS Count project sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reports the following descriptions of Oklahoma Students (Click for the
Children ages 3 to 4 not attending preschool (2011-2013): 59%
* Children below "proficient" in 3rd-grade reading achievement levels (2013-2014): 20%
* Children below "basic" in 4th-grade reading achievement levels (2015): 29%
* Children below "basic" in 8th-grade math achievement levels (2015): 32%
* High school students not graduating on time (2011-2012): 21%
* Teens, ages 16-19, not in school and not high school graduates: 12,000/ 6%
* Teens, ages 16-19, not in school and not working: 19,000/ 9%
It's almost common knowledge that Oklahoma funds education at one of the lowest levels in the country, and we are now seeing the results of that failure to fund. Education Week publishes a report that looks at education outcomes across the states. You can review Oklahoma's segment of Quality Counts 2015 Grading Summary HERE.
STATE QUESTION 779: OKLAHOMA EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT FUND
State Question 779
, titled the Oklahoma Education Improvement Fund, resulted from an initiative petition and is designed to stabilize state funding for education through the enactment of a statewide penny sales tax. The revenue from the penny sales tax would be dedicated wholly to funding education. You can view the petition
Each voter is encouraged to review and consider this initiative petition. It does, in many ways, address the funding shortfalls of our current public education system. Some have expressed concern that increasing the sales tax places a greater burden on low-income families and increases our state sales tax rate to one of the highest in the nation. There is mutual agree
ment on both sides of the issue that addressing the shortfalls in our education system is a massive, but imperative, challenge.
This state question resulted largely from the failure of state-elected officials to address adequately the needs of public education. A
s voters, you are strongly encouraged to determine the stance candidates are taking regarding education
and express to them the importance of quality education to you. If State Question 779 passes, it is still just the first step in improving our children's outlook for future success. We must have elected officials willing to work toward brighter futures for all Oklahoma children.