OKLAHOMA CITY – A year after 20,000 teachers walked out of the classroom and into the Capitol to demand more respect and resources for public education, the Oklahoma House has failed to produce a plan to fund public education by the statutorily mandated April 1 deadline.
“We keep saying education is a priority,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman). “But our actions show that we still haven’t learned to listen to the education community. It is absurd that the legislature hasn’t met this deadline.”
The April 1 education funding deadline has previously been met twice. Lawmakers met the deadline when the law was first implemented in 2004, and the legislature met the deadline last year when 20,000 teachers flocked to the Capitol and commanded their attention.
“This body can meet this deadline,” said Rep. Matt Meredith (D-Tahlequah). “It is a choice not to meet this deadline. The majority party has chosen to run legislation that helps corporations and high-wage earners rather than legislation that puts money back into the funding formula.”
Not meeting the deadline has real consequences for school districts, especially those in rural Oklahoma that are competing with surrounding states for teachers.
“By funding education earlier in the spring, we are giving administrators the ability to hire and retain educators at time when the rest of the country is doing the same,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa). “It also provides teachers with more financial security or more time to plan.”