Do Oklahomans Really Care About Education?
Oklahoma’s Election Primary runoffs are over, and it is time for us to answer one important question.
Do we, the citizens of Oklahoma, really value education as much as we say we do?
I’m sure many people would answer, “Of course.” They might even be offended by the slightest implication they think otherwise.
And as much as it is generally painted as an issue that belongs to Democrats, I’m going to assume that, in this state, many if not most of the people who say they deeply care about education are Republicans.
I’m not going to discount the Republicans of this state by treating them as the enemy.
Instead, if you’re a Republican, and you’re reading this, I want you to know I’m talking directly to you.
Kevin Stitt, the new Republican candidate for governor, does not care about education.
That may sound harsh, so allow me to explain.
On Stitt’s official campaign website, he explains some key parts of his plan to reform education in the state.
“I like the policy proposed by a conservative group of House legislators to give schools the flexibility to use part of their current property tax revenue on teacher pay instead of being restricted to buildings and infrastructure.” Stitt said.
This comes after Stitt’s previously stated opposition to the recent tax increase to pay for a raise for teachers statewide.
He has since walked back his statements on the subject somewhat, saying that he supports a pay raise for Oklahoma teachers, a matter which is already state law, but strongly opposes the raising of taxes in order to do it.
Which brings us back to the plan I just quoted from his website. To any small government types, of which there are many in this state, this plan probably sounds like music to their ears.
And, again, it is specifically to these types I’m talking.
I understand where the sentiment. To lessen the influence and power the government has over our everyday lives is a perfectly reasonable goal.
But Kevin Stitt is not doing this because it’s the smart way or because it’s the right way.
He’s doing this to score points with Republicans, because he thinks they’re too stupid to notice that what he is really doing is siphoning money out of one underfunded part of our education system, doing a little sleight of hand, and making the money reappear in another crumbling part of our education system, like a hack magician.
When Teachers marched on our State Capitol earlier this year, they did it because they wanted funding for education in this state.
They wanted more money to teach the children of this state, to give them an education worth having, and a place fit to have it in.
I went to school in this state, as I’m sure many of those reading this did. I saw classrooms with rotten, leaky roofs, Walls covered in holes, and exposed insulation still filled with asbestos from the by-gone era when people didn’t realize the speed with which asbestos killed a person.
I’m sure many of those reading this remember that too.
Infrastructure is important. We cannot seriously talk about education funding without talking about funding for the literal schools where education takes place.
But Kevin Stitt gave approval of a plan to take money out of our physical classrooms, and then acts as if he is funding those very same classrooms, and providing education funding.
But to Stitt, this money is not to fund education, and it never was. It’s hush money. He’s paying the teachers off because he doesn’t want them on his lawn, and he’s doing it with money from their workplaces, which are literally falling apart around them.
And you, the Republicans to which I am speaking, would apparently be happy to let him do it, so long as he promises to stay pro-life, and never, ever raise taxes.
Those are the only issues that appear to matter to Republicans in this state.
So, to you, the Republicans of this state, I’m saying, either you care about education or you don’t, and voting for Kevin Stitt tells me you don’t care about education as much as you said you do.
Better luck next time, I suppose.