The Pryor Times

Opinion

April 5, 2014

An effort worth making

PRYOR, OK — “Democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to an untiring effort.”

~John F. Kennedy

Nearly 25 years ago, in 1990, I along with thousands of my fellow teacher colleagues joined citizens, parents, and students to rally at the State Capitol to lend our voices in support of the landmark $230 million education funding and reform legislation, House Bill 1017.

The legislation called for several reforms including class-size restrictions for primary and elementary grades, increased pay for beginning teachers, and allowing for early childhood education for 4-year-olds.

After passage of the historic legislation Governor Henry Bellmon stated, “Our state will never again take a back seat in education.”

Never say never.

In the last five years, Oklahoma’s per pupil investment in common education has fallen more than twenty percent, $213 million, which is the largest percentage drop in any state in the entire nation.

As a result of these steep cuts, students are being crammed into overcrowded classrooms with 1,500 fewer teachers and 40,000 more students since 2008-2009.

Over the years, many provisions of HB 1017 have been abolished or watered down including the moratorium that was passed by the legislature in 2010 on the House Bill 1017 class-size mandate.

Per student funding is down even more for Oklahoma higher education with the cost is being shifted onto rising tuition and fees.

And, in spite of years of reduced funding, numerous pieces of legislation have imposed stringent new testing and accountability mandates on our students and teachers.

So, on Monday, Stephanie, Amelia and I joined 25,000 other concerned citizens from around District 6 and across the state – teachers, school administrators, parents, students, and citizens to rally once again for public education in an untiring effort.

The education of the 681,578 students in schools all across the state and the thousands more young children who will soon join their ranks is an investment Oklahoma must make. The legislative votes I make on your behalf will always be in support of them.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments or if I can be of any other assistance. You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502, emailing to chuck.hoskin@okhouse.gov; or writing to me at Representative Chuck Hoskin, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 509, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.

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