Scholar dismisses alarmist report about Oklahoma’s K-12 spending

Sep 21, 2013 by

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – A new report from the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities claims Oklahoma has cut its per-pupil spending by 22.8 percent since the Great Recession hit in 2008.

That percentage represents the biggest K-12 cut in the nation, according to the left-wing think tank.

The report has some Oklahomans wringing their hands over the Sooner State’s lack of school funding, but Brandon Dutcher of the conservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs isn’t one of them.

In a new op-ed, Dutcher notes that public schools have so many funding streams that it’s impossible to know exactly how much the state spends on each student.

“The National Education Association says per-pupil spending in Oklahoma is $8,285. The Census Bureau says it’s $8,863. Other federal and Oklahoma government agencies give different numbers,” Dutcher writes.

He quotes one scholar who likened the process of determining per-pupil expenditures to “deciphering a riddle.”

And even if Oklahoma taxpayers ever do get a straight answer on how much they’re spending on each student, that will only lead to more questions.

Dutcher continues: “Is eight grand not enough? Should we double it? Triple it? The Census Bureau says the District of Columbia spends $29,409 per pupil – yet D.C. has some of the worst schools in America.”

According to Dutcher, Oklahoma school leaders who claim to not have enough money to properly educate students should reexamine how much they’re spending on wages and benefits for school employees who seldom (if ever) set foot in the classroom.

“Economist Benjamin Scafidi points out that between 1992 and 2009, the percentage increase in Oklahoma administrators and other nonteaching staff was nearly three times greater than the increase in students,” Dutcher writes. “Today Oklahoma has nearly as many non teachers as teachers.”

If more money is not the answer, what is?

That’s easy, says Dutcher: School choice.

And that can be achieved through vouchers, tax credits or Arizona-style education savings accounts.

“Education scholar Greg Forster reports that ’23 empirical studies have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact,’” he writes.

Dutcher ends his op-ed by quoting Tahlequah Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Presley: “There has never been enough revenue for public education, and there never will be.”

Scholar dismisses alarmist report about Oklahoma’s K-12 spending – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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