PLAC says more than $300 million is at stake and could be made available for education and other core services of government, but competing interests threaten education as a top priority.
The cost of educating a student is higher than in 2009, revenues are smaller and the ability to attract what Crawford calls “the best of the best” to the teaching profession has been diminished, PLEC members say.
Crawford admits the Legislature has been financially strapped the last five years. At the same time, he said, “(Legislators) haven’t made education a priority.”
He accused too many legislators of being more concerned about building new roads and bridges than educating Oklahoma's school children.
Crawford estimated that 60 education jobs have left Pontotoc County because of reduced funding, pointing out that the estimated return on investment for every dollar was between $7 and $8.
He estimated the county had lost $3 million due to cuts and asked aloud how many new car sales is that in this county? How many house sales? How many extra teachers to shrink class sizes back to 2009 levels?
All of those potential dollars, he said, have left the county. Superintendents, he said, take the funds they receive and work out the best education they can for students in Pontotoc County.
He estimated a proposed education bill would put $575 million worth of lost education dollars back into Oklahoma schools, but even then, he added, it would take four years to get us back to the 2009 levels.
He emphasized his support for better roads and bridges. “I drive on them every day and sometimes go faster than I’m supposed to," he said. But he also emphasized the state’s future and ability to attract the best of the best are at stake.
Reach Art Lawler at email@example.com.