Legislators Shackle School Achievement
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Parents, the time to take action is now. The time to use your voice is now. The attacks against the public education system are no longer being waged behind closed doors, in quiet corners. Those who seek to give tax funds to private schools or home school students don’t even try to mask their work to destroy public education in our state.
“The reason private schools work so well, and they do work well; and the reason home schooling works so well, and it does work well, is that they are free,” said Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Jenks. “They are living the American Dream free of the shackles public schools are required to operate under.”
That’s very bold coming from a legislator that holds the keys to the shackles that he, and others like him, place upon our public schools.
Public schools, with their bulging, crowded classrooms, overwhelming high-stakes standardized tests and one of the lowest per-pupil budgets in the entire country—yes, let’s compare them with private schools. Top private schools spend two or more times per student than our public schools are budgeted to receive —and you can bet that their classrooms are not overcrowded.
The quote from Rep. Strohm came as the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee was debating a bill that would have made private schools receiving public funds accountable just like their public school counterparts. Well…who would want that? You can’t have an unfair advantage if you level the playing field.
Public education is the choice for 90% of K-12 students across our country. That’s 688,300 children in Oklahoma. Yet, many of our public officials work tirelessly to underfund and oppress it to the point of destruction, then point a finger and label it “failing.”
If our elected officials truly cared about every child, they would work tirelessly to make Oklahoma’s public education system the envy of the nation. Instead, they are content to shackle it with unfunded mandates and overburden it with high-stakes tests. They don’t stop at starving our schools; average teacher pay also languishes, ranked 48th in the nation.
It is time for the bleeding to stop. Our children deserve better. Very soon, SB 609 will be debated by our state senate. If this legislation is not stopped, public education will once again be wounded, allowing your tax dollars to fund private school tuition or home school students with “education savings accounts,” the new name for an old enemy: vouchers.
Vouchers are not the answer. Public education is the foundation of the American Dream that Rep. Strohm mentioned. Parents, teachers, and concerned citizens, never before has your voice been needed so urgently.
Pick up the phone, sit down at the keyboard, visit the Capitol, we cannot afford to be silent. Let your legislators know you believe in school choice—and that choice is public education. Our children can have a brighter future, but it will take all of us working as one voice for every child. Make the call; send the email, because the child’s future you save may just be your own.