Last month, Greg Barrack who teaches 9th grade through 12th grade students at Tulsa Memorial High School, wrote an excellent article entitled “To Help Fund Schools, Districts Need to Consolidate.”
The article begins by citing the loss of teacher talent flowing to neighboring states. He admits people are trying, but the easy way out is not to raise taxes.
His advice is – don’t raise taxes unless you want to drive jobs away. Those same jobs that his students will need to build their futures. Without good jobs, our best-educated students will move away to pursue better employment opportunities and the vicious cycle continues on for another generation.
Mr. Barrack cites as an example the state of Florida. He says, “Here’s an illustrative example: Florida, a state with more than 20.5 million citizens, has 74 school districts, one for each of its 67 counties, plus a few specialized ones. Here in Oklahoma, we have fewer than 4 million people, but we have 515 districts. So, Florida has more than five times Oklahoma’s population, the fourth largest state economy in the United States and a tax base that dwarfs ours, yet Oklahomans pay to sustain 7.3 times more school districts than Florida.”
Think of our 515-district headquarters with their salaries, retirement pay and their support staffs, their buildings, information systems, vehicles, etc.
“How absurdly wasteful.”
Instead of tackling the problem head on, the Legislature passes on reform for raising taxes on people in a poor state.
What Mr. Barrack proposes is setting up a nonpartisan Oklahoma Public School Consolidation Commission much as the congress setup the Defense Department’s Base Realignment and Closure process.
This really is an excellent thought since Governor Mary Fallin has issued an executive order directing the State Board of Education to review the amount of money actually going into the classroom. The governor feels that for those school districts not meeting a minimum of 60 percent might be good candidates for consolidation or annexation.
The State School Board could then take their findings and provide them to the nonpartisan Consolidation Commission. Mr. Barrack concludes with “The time for Oklahoma’s government to work better and smarter isn’t just overdue, it is new imperative.”
In another Wall Street Journal article, the finding was that cash incentives lift test scores. In an experiment last year, a group of Massachusetts 10th graders got a surprise at the beginning of a math test: money in exchange for correct answers. Cash provided to be an incentive for greater effort resulting in higher scores.
The state’s School Consolidation Commission could also provide a cash incentive to school districts that consolidate and to those who acquire them.
The joke is how Congressman Tom Cole reacted to President Trump’s reference to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” The congressman – who only a few moons ago never mentioned his Indian heritage – is now replete in turquoise jewelry, although where the Chickasaws came from had no turquoise.
Elizabeth Warren is a joke and a liar. She is not an Indian. Her family could not be found on the Cherokee rolls.
Did you know that in 1984 Ms. Warren wrote the Pow Wow Chow cookbook? A Boston radio talk show host, Howie Carr, found that of the five recipes submitted, three were plagiarized by Ms. Warren. They were recipes of other chefs.
Lighten up, Tom.