Editorial: Education reform is the answer

Oklahoma lawmakers are wrestling with the idea of school vouchers and that has marshaled opposition from the teachers’ union and other liberal groups.

Attacking vouchers is just a way to avoid the deeper issue – public school reform.

Oklahoma has invested billions of dollars into public schools but education results have plummeted as liberal educators spend more and more on administration and less on teacher pay and benefits.

The teachers’ union and the liberal media blame Republican legislators for low teacher salaries when it is really each of Oklahoma’s 500-plus school districts that determined pay levels for teachers. State law sets a minimum. School boards set their own budgets.

Vouchers (Education Savings Accounts) are just one idea to give parents some choice on how to escape from underperforming public schools. Family tax credits are another avenue.
Wouldn’t vouchers draw money from public education? Yes and that would force districts to close bad schools and concentrate on improving those schools that are doing a good job. And budgetary needs should decline as the student population grows smaller.

If more money for public education would solve the problem, that would be great. It won’t. There needs to be reform.

Republican leadership in the Senate won’t let any school consolidation bills even be heard in committee. It’s clear that the public education lobby is the most influential group in Oklahoma politics – including the citizens of the state.

Fixing public education will take an effort to overcome the teachers’ union, the mainstream media and liberal politicians.

Don’t expect that to happen soon.