OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Education Association needs to get a new calculator and explain the facts regarding education funding in Oklahoma. That's according to Senate Minority Whip Carol Martin. Her comments came after the OEA criticized the legislative leadership from both parties.
"Since 1990, Oklahoma taxpayers have paid 82% more to fund public education. The OEA complains that despite this dramatic increase of dollars, all told spending of $11.65 billion, per pupil funding has fallen each of the last four years. If that's the case, something is seriously wrong," said Martin.
"If we are spending more than ever before, why isn't the money getting into the classrooms to support our students and our teachers?"
Senator Martin also pointed out that while the state of Utah spends less per pupil than Oklahoma, Utah students scored higher on both the ACT and the SAT.
In addition their teachers are paid more than in Oklahoma. Utah ranks 40th in the nation in teacher pay, with an average salary of $31,750 compared to Oklahoma's ranking of 46th with an average salary of $29,270.
"Here's a state that spends less per student than Oklahoma, but their kids are scoring higher, and their teachers are paid better. And while we've actually increased funding, less is getting to the classrooms," said Senator Martin.
"The OEA needs to understand that this is not about money. It's how we spend the money we have, and what we expect from our students. We must critically evaluate the money we spend and get more bang out of every buck we appropriate each year. Then we could put that money into student support and higher teacher pay," commented Martin.
"Only the Republicans are talking about these improvements. Until more conservatives are elected who feel this way, things aren't going to change under the current leadership by the majority."