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Two things: remember the base

February 16, 2016

Still fuming over yesterday’s rigged committee vote to move Representative Jason Nelson’s voucher bill to the house floor, I didn’t get my Two Things for Tuesday posted this morning. That’s probably a good thing. The delay gave me time to read from the top education news source in Oklahoma, the Tulsa World.

House Bill 2949, by Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, advanced on a 9-8 vote. Votes from Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, and Speaker Pro Tem Lee Denney, R-Cushing, were necessary to get the measure through the committee, where a similar bill had failed on a 9-9 tie a year ago.

The speaker and speaker pro tem can vote on any bill in committee but generally do so only when needed for a majority.

The difference from a year ago was that Rep. Dennis Casey, R-Morrison, a former educator who voted against the measure in 2015, has been removed from the committee and not replaced. All other votes were exactly the same as a year ago.

This merely continues a pattern that frustrates me. With every other issue that is important to our state leaders, they ask the experts. When it comes to education, they want us on the sidelines. Actually, they don’t even want us that close. See thing one and thing two below.

thing one thing two.jpg

1. State Senate President Brian Bingman told the Oklahoman editorial board last week that the state needs to proceed with caution when it comes to rolling back any tax credits to try to fix the state’s budget problems.

Tax incentives are being reviewed as well. Yet many companies’ financial plans are based in part on promised tax breaks. Abrupt elimination of incentives could have serious, negative impact in the private sector.

Bingman said business leaders will be heavily consulted, and predicted most changes to tax incentive programs will not take effect until future years. Yet within a few days, Bingman appeared to send a different message after Gov. Mary Fallin urged caution over changing incentives. Fallin said The Boeing Company bowed out of two Oklahoma projects after a moratorium on some tax incentives passed out of committee.

Bingman has also proposed school consolidation (as has the governor). Were any school leaders heavily consulted? What about students or parents? It’s this double standard that infuriates all of us who work in public education. It’s not the only example, though.

2. A year ago at this time, the governor imposed a hiring freeze and a moratorium on raises. To say that exceptions have been granted is sort of like saying there are currently a few sharks off the coast of Florida.

HT_Sharks2_ml_160215_4x3_992

Not only were there more than 13,000 exceptions, but the reasoning is another slap in the face to teachers. State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger didn’t want to lose good people to the private sector.

“I’m never going to be shortsighted in potentially losing a high-quality employee over not a lot of money to the private sector,” Doerflinger said.

Does anybody we’ve elected care that schools are losing high-quality employees to the private sector (or to other states)? Do you people not hear the irony?


 

I know that politicians have to constantly work their base. That’s why they call the groups like the State Chamber, OCPA, and OCPA Impact “grassroots” organizations. These are the base supporters for the voucher wolves and elected leaders who are determined to take even more money away from schools. The nine representatives who voted for HB 2949 yesterday listen to these groups – not to public school parents, educators, or the majority of their voters.

grass roots my ass

Well, I’m no politician, but I know my base. It starts with students and parents. It extends to teachers and principals. It includes strong support for public schools from the business community. All of us who serve the education community would do well to remember this.

Somebody has to.

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  1. Amelia Nichols
    February 16, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    I think a lot of our legislators are still subscribing to the old “when I was in school” attitude, that being if it was good enough for them it should be good enough for children now. However the simple fact of the matter is that our world has changed dramatically from the old reading, ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmatic days. Our schools have to change to reflect the changing needs of our world as a whole. No longer can we rely on the same old textbooks, and the same old teaching methods. Therefore, we can no longer rely on the same old funding. The more they take away from education funding, the more they steal from our future by denying our children the skills, training, and practical experiences they need. We are hemorrhaging teachers at a frightening pace and if something isn’t done soon, we may never get them back.

    Like

  2. claudiaswisher
    February 16, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    So, the Committee is undermanned? I noticed Casey was gone…in fact, wasn’t he co-chair? Thanks for clearing it up. Am I being too cynical to see a connection?

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 16, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      No, it’s a clear connection. They had to remove someone to get it to pass. They removed an actual teacher from the education committee. Go figure.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathy Carter
    February 16, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Why was Dennis Casey removed and by whom?

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  4. Barbara Smith
    February 17, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    You didn’t mention that the Education Finance and Budget committee pass a bill requiring anti-abortion curriculum be taught in high school for the purpose of creating an abortion free society on the same day that vouchers was passed out of committee.

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  1. February 17, 2016 at 7:31 am
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