Across Oklahoma, students are gearing up for a new school year. And while it might be a new year, our students are facing an all too familiar funding crisis and teacher shortage. Here are five reasons why you should care about about a special session:
- This. And this and this. And so much more. Teachers in Oklahoma are in dire straits from being the lowest paid educators in the nation. Their current options seem to be either to uproot their lives and leave the state (which leaves schools and, ultimately, children in the lurch) or to give up their already-meager paycheck to purchase classroom supplies. Teachers are the number one in-school influence on learning, and if our teachers are stressed out from hovering near the poverty line, then our students aren’t getting a quality education.
- The budget released by the Oklahoma legislature not only doesn’t provide funding for a teacher salary increase, but it includes revenue sources that are constitutionally questionable. Thanks to this shortsighted and, frankly, flimsy maneuvering, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has taken up three lawsuits about the budget. If any measures are struck down by the court, then the legislature could go into a special session.
- This isn’t even close to the first time that the state budget used one-time fixes to plug budget holes and chose irresponsible ways to generate revenue. They had a chance to change that this year, and they blew it. A special session could give them another chance to do right by working families in our state.
- Education is the foundation for the success of not only our children, but for the state as a whole. When our students succeed, more jobs are generated, and when the job market stays in Oklahoma, our economy grows. Instead of being a low priority, education should be at the top.
- As a citizen of this state, you deserve a legislature – and a budget – that puts people first, starting with our children. Funding education and increasing teacher pay are not off the table quite yet – but only if we can convince our lawmakers to get it done in a special session.
Our students and teachers are counting on you.