Ada — I don’t remember the product being advertised, but there was a commercial on television several years ago that really stuck with me. The punch line was “You can pay me now or you can pay me later,” with the implication that you can pay some now or a lot more later. I think of that when I keep a piece of machinery past its useful life and spend more on repairs than a new one would cost.
The concept is true in every aspect of life, both personally and nationally. It is true in the maintenance of our autos and homes, and it is true in the maintenance of our infrastructure. If we don’t maintain our streets and highways, how much more do we pay in auto maintenance? How much business does it cost local merchants? How many potential businesses don’t locate here and how much does that cost?
Nowhere is the concept more true than in the area of education, whether you are talking about a plumber or a scientist. We know that a well-educated individual is more likely to find employment, to earn more money, to pay more taxes, and need fewer social services.
Conversely, an undereducated individual is more likely to be unemployed, to earn less when employed, to need more social services, and more likely to be part of the criminal justice system at some time in their life.
Almost everyone agrees that our standard of living and our competitiveness in the world economy absolutely depend on a well-educated workforce. If education is that important, why do we as a Nation and a State continue to operate on the cheap when the return on investment is huge?
According to an article in USA Today, per pupil spending in Oklahoma from 2008 to 2014 decreased by 23 percent, the largest percentage decrease of any state since the recession started. This while Oklahoma weathered the recession better than most states and Oklahoma legislators obsessed about reducing income taxes.