Upside Down

The Sunday Tulsa World ran an article entitle “Salary Struggles.”  The purpose was to promote the fact that Oklahoma pays its teachers less than surrounding states.

In reality, if you believe the World’s numbers, Oklahoma is maybe 10 percent less, which can be made up.  We really don’t know what numbers were used. Were benefits or other perks counted?

The story was an educational one.  It focuses on two individuals who couldn’t make it on an average teacher’s salary of $44,628. If you don’t like the compensation, please join the military and make half the teacher salary and hope you aren’t terribly wounded and must rely on the Veterans Administration for care.

Probably the most honest statement in Andrew Eger’s story was when one of the stressed teachers said after losing her house, “That’s when I lost my principal’s support,” as her eyes welled up.  “I think she lost faith in me and probably questioned my decision-making ability.”

The Tulsa World picked two teachers who probably couldn’t manage under any circumstance.

That brings us to the question – how does Oklahoma bring our salaries to the regional average?  When oil and gas revenue declines, it will be hard to do.

Ideas?

What makes a great state, a great corporation and family, is dealing incrementally with the issues. A savings here and a savings there, works over time.

One area in Oklahoma where savings lie is in all those school districts.  We have 517 districts and a program to share superintendents.

There is an incentive to share, but no one takes advantage of it.  Again, the Tulsa World wrote an article without taking a stand against the bloated district bureaucracy.  In their September 20 article, they focused on Taloga Public School where the superintendent earns $82,858 a year.

The problem with the system (and I am certain the Taloga superintendent cleans bathrooms when the janitor goes fishing) is  – who needs the facilities?  The whole district has just 86 students.

Most Oklahomans elected super-Republican majorities in the House and Senate to bring about reform and promote the state.  At $120 a barrel oil, we should have shined but we didn’t.

Elected officials – like Cougar in Top Gun – lost the edge and turned in their wings. Maybe they never had the edge.   Toyota and Liberty Mutual just moved to Dallas.  Will Williams Companies move to Dallas? Our incompetent Commerce Department should have opened economic development offices in California years ago. With a state income tax and poor public education, should we be surprised no one is coming to Oklahoma?

We also can make education in Oklahoma great.  All the Legislature needs to do is get out of the way.  They approved Common Core and then changed their minds.  It cost Oklahoma six years of expense and work from 2010 to 2016 to develop new standards.

Why do private schools do so well?  First of all, they have practically no testing.  Public schools must offer Washington-mandated tests, state tests and district tests.  We teach to the test.

Stepping up one notch, Tulsa Community College (which the city is so proud of) ranks 503 of 670 community colleges.  TCC has four campuses yet remains a poor institution for learning,

In Oklahoma no one really wants education reform and that’s a fact. We like to talk about changes, but why push the kids?

Tim Tebow threw two touchdowns in his last game and was cut from the rooster.  Most administrators throw brick after brick and keep their jobs. So many things about how we run the state are simply upside down.

Reality trumps perception.