This May will be the 80th anniversary of the first graduating class at the new Ada Junior High. The building and its furnishings were a testament to the willing sacrifice of citizens still suffering from the Great Depression.
Fast forward to today. Opinion pieces are printed on a regular basis from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. This group takes individual and corporate donations to shape public opinion and lobby the legislature. They often mislead the public to enable them to determine the direction of the future of this state.
For years they helped guide the legislature in giving specific corporate tax credits and individual tax cuts aimed at the top earners. This led to a 30% cut in education spending, 10 years with no pay raises, thousands of lay-offs, and no money for new books. All the while, there was an increase of about 50,000 new students.
When teachers and parents finally took their place in advising their elected officials, part of their funding was restored — but only part.
Meanwhile, some of our tax dollars going to Epic Charter Schools have been going to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs to convince citizens there is an “evil” union controlling education. This is a “right to work” state. Oklahoma Education Association members vary greatly in their political views, but unite in supporting the best education possible for their students. Educators should be able to meet with their legislators on a regular basis — inform them of the need for materials, return to decent class size, and what a living wage means to teacher recruitment. If schools shut down for this purpose, the days are made up.
Why should only those handing out dark money campaign contributions have political access? Why should online schools with only an 18% pass rate still be in business? Why are the tax payers allowing online schools to advertise? Every opinion piece that condemns public education should be scrutinized for ulterior motives.
In 1939, people sacrificed to provide the best school for Ada’s children. Surely, we can care enough to know how our tax dollars are spent and make sure wise choices are made.
June Murphy, Ada