Lawmakers try everything to fix education… except increase funding.

The Great Oklahoma Teacher’s Walkout of 2018 was a historic movement which proved that with determination, sacrifice, and collaboration, teachers from across districts have the power to unite and collectively plea for better wages and financial support. Even though Oklahoma lawmakers were more eager to complain about the demands than actually meet them. But just because most of the teachers’ classroom funding demands weren’t met and our educators continue to be among the lowest paid in the country, it doesn’t mean our lawmakers don’t care about public schools. In fact, a bill just passed a Senate committee that would require Oklahoma schools to hold 5-day school weeks—at any cost.

Via News OK…

Two bills backed by Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat cleared a committee Tuesday, including one that would force more Oklahoma school districts to return to five-day school weeks.

The Senate Education Committee voted 11-6 for the bill by Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, which calls for all public schools to be in session for no less than 180 days. Currently, schools are to be in session for 1,080 hours.

According to the state Education Department, 92 of Oklahoma’s more than 500 districts are currently operating on four-day school weeks.

Now I am a product of the Oklahoma public school system myself and therefore cannot math as good as those Oklahoma Christian Academy kids can. But according to those stats, about 18% of Oklahoma schools are currently running on a 4 day school week. That’s not only bad for the kids’ education, but also for parents who may be scrambling to afford childcare to keep watch over their spawn while they’re at work.

But if you keep reading, this News OK article seems to paint a beautiful picture of what the bills plan to do, which is create opportunities for children to expand their education and provide resources for homeless students. Many would be happy to know that Oklahoma lawmakers are finally making education a priority. But the thing is, they really aren’t.

Let’s go over to KFOR for a hot second

Due to years of dwindling school budgets, some Oklahoma school districts decided to switch to four-day school weeks. In addition to saving money, the districts said it was a way to recruit and retain teachers.

“We have increased attendance, which should improve our test scores, and we are retaining teachers,” said McLoud Public Schools Superintendent Steve Stanley.

However, many Republican lawmakers believe districts should move back to a five-day week…

Earlier this month, House Democrats told News 4 that they wouldn’t endorse the mandate without fixing other things.

“To say, from the Legislature, no, you have to have this plan exactly how we want it, when we know that we have continually underfunded them and that’s the reason why they are open four days a week – that’s foolish,” said Emily Virgin, House Minority Leader.

So yes, Senate Bill 441 would keep more schools open 5 days per week. I looked through the bill and saw the requirements for the 180 days, as well as a requirement for data collection to be done by school districts and sent to the State Department of Education to make sure students’ needs are being met. While accountability and full school weeks are important for Oklahoma children, it’s also important that there’s funding to support it. Which is not something this bill seems to give. Schools aren’t going to 4-day weeks because they want to. They’re just using the resources they have to provide the best experience they can afford. And Senators aren’t passing this legislation because they want to help school children. They are just using the resources they have to provide the best talking points for their constituents.

Call Hayley almond extract ’cause she’s bitter. Then follow her on Twitter @squirrellygeek

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27 Responses

  1. I think this bill is designed to try to decrease negative stories and embarrassment for the legislature, as stories about schools going to 4 day weeks due to budget cuts is pretty bad optics.

  2. Aren’t these guys from the same crowd that complains about “unfunded mandates” from clueless legislators?

  3. So true Hayley and Kratatoa. Also big business types around the country generally still support public education and since they are in competition with, say Japan, which requires more than 220 days of schooling per year, while we are at best about 180, yes indeed four day weeks are bad optics……… well as job killers, not to mention happy futures, for our students.

    One other advantage school administrators who laud four day weeks don’t talk publicly about is the following: Teachers can put together three whole days of working at Walmart over the long weekends and Walmart is happy to have these talented, well educated folks because it doesn’t have to pay them benefits or insurance.

    In summary this is the Oklahoma Standard, brought to you by former Governor Mary Fallin and the Republican Legislature during their absolute control over the last eight years with the results being:

    1- A win for Walmart.
    2- A modest financial win for teachers who could work for minimum wage seven days a week.
    3- An embarrassing, or at least it should be, win for administrators who actually claimed four day weeks were a good thing for their kids. If we have too many superintendents start here to clear the deadwood.
    4- A win for non-certified educators because 30,000 certified professionals have left Oklahoma classrooms over the last six years.

    5- But of course a massive loss over a lifetime for students who have endured this foolishness for perhaps a majority of their secondary education years.

    So here we go again. Early bills flying out of committees in the legislature include: (1) another unconstitutional restriction on abortion as promoted by a freshman, male, old, white, Republican lawmaker from Roland, Oklahoma; (2) more gun bills that abolish any training or licensing; (3) more proposals to provide credits/incentives to the tax code and many other ideas long discredited or abandoned……….except in the legislature.

    BUT on the money raising side the House big boys McCall, Kannady and Echols have received hundreds of thousands of dollars already, mostly from lobbyists, to get ready for their elections in 2020. With all this moola, and the approval of a toothless Ethics Commission, they will distribute much of it in $2700.00 checks to house minions, sometimes called legislators, to guarantee their re-elections in two years as well.

    If you think I am making up this legal prostitution activity going on at the capitol, please know that Speaker McCall had so much money last fall that he spent nearly half million on his own race and also distributed another $70,000 to future lapdogs now in his caucus.

    Is this a great state or what?

    Answer: Or what.

    1. Will you run? You make more sense than anyone.

      1. Thank you Julie. I am unelectable for the very reason you point out. I do try to make sense of complicated policy questions. For now I’ll just have to share my hard earned wisdom/biases/opinions/etc with TLO readers but I do very much appreciate your compliments.

        Of course there are many that hold exactly the opposite opinion about yours truly but such is life in the now slow lane.

  4. They are the same bunch that advocates for “local control” of school districts across the state. That is one of the major reasons they cite to back away from anything to do with long overdue consolidation in one form or another.

  5. I could’ve sworn the teachers got a $9,000 a year raise last year.

    1. You shouldn’t overlook where they started.

    2. Nope. $6100 average after not receiving a raise for more than a decade. Cal

      1. State employees haven’t gotten that much of a raise in probably 20 years combined.

        1. Exactly, Mr. Sinner.

    3. $5000.00 for new hires ranging up to $7000.00 for those with 25+ years of experience.

      Where did this $9000.00 imaginary figure come from? Some fringe group posting?

      Real Deal:

  6. I worked for one year at a 4 day a week school. They still went the same amount of required time. It was in a small/poor rural district that did not have much to attract new teachers. It did not save them money at all! . What it did do was provide an incentive to get new teachers. The local community voted on it as well – they were in full support. And it helped bring in quality teachers who came for just that reason.

  7. You are correct. They have done nothing & have no intention. of doing anything. They continue to paint us as idiots with these lame ideas as they dance all around what ireally the problem solver is +money.
    Funding. Something they have trobbed & ignored to the point of no return.
    Care? No. Their care & concern is focused on covering their asses & needs till they can slip out the back door like Fallin did.
    I wish some RICH SOB would offer one of those snakes big bucks to turn belly up on the entire corrupt group. That would be great.

  8. stupid as usual, we want vouchers for our kids , and we want school choice , and we want oklahoma government out of education , and you can’t get much plainer then that . its a corrupt system with all its perks that benefit pocket fillers and does absolutely nothing for education under the guise of a name. Propping up your dead beat colleges, and directors and supers . and the list gos on and on . 10.3 billion dollars , and your crooked legislator , lied to oklahoman’s when they said the lottery would be for schools , it sure was , your welfare colleges here . and of course your 4 day school week was a sham , because you kept right on paying teachers, for a day they no longer had to show up , how stupid this is . then you said they kept on paying facility, another stupid move . bit I always said you cant fix stupid .

    1. Alma Mercer how does one correct ignorance when ignorance will not listen? One last time, THE LOTTERY……it never took in the money “they” thought it would to begin with, therefore the amount of $ to education was not as great as “expected”. Lying to Oklahoman’s, no…poor prediction as to how much $’s they would take in, yes. Now for the how stupid is this, teachers working only 4 days and getting paid for 5. Make a long story short teachers who work a 4 day week for a school district do not get paid for 5 days a week by that district. if they did the Superintendent and Board of Education would be in jail for misappropriating school funds. If I am wrong, tell me where in Oklahoma they work 4 days and get paid for 5. Heck I bet you would say they only work 9 months but get paid for 12?? Hope these facts will enlighten you, but as you always said, you can’t fix stupid.

      1. 🤣

    2. Teacher pay is paid at an hourly rate not a daily rate. Schools require teachers to put in the same minimum number of hours of classroom instructional time regardless of whether it’s a 4 or 5 day school week. Classes just happen to run longer in a 4 day-per-week school district.

  9. Sorta like setting your car on fire and then yelling at it, “STOP BURNING YOU STUPID CAR!”


  10. Wait, you’re not supposed to clean your house by sweeping dirt under rugs?


  11. If you can’t afford to be open 5 days a week, maybe your school needs to consolidate. When all you have are 10 seniors (some only 5) graduating, is it really worth the cost to taxpayers to fund a fully staffed district? There are 500 school districts in Oklahoma. Florida has 74 and are in the top 5 rated schools in the USA. Maybe it’s time to make the tough decisions, that have kicked down the road for decades. It’s pretty sad when you have to use a 4 day work week to recruit teachers. Maybe you’re not getting the most qualified teachers but just filling a position with a warm body who is attracted to getting the same pay for working a 4 day work week. Oklahoma could knock our districts in half, increase teacher pay, fund our schools properly and attract the best and brightest applicants but that would require tough decisions and not be attractive during reelection season.

    1. You’ve made the only logical comment thus far. The money “saved” not paying the costs associated with 500(!) total districts would be massive.

  12. 4 days verses 5 days per week is a red herring. The tall pole in the tent is class size. Why is smaller class size typically one of the first reasons parents cite when speaking about “school choice” issues?

    The public education system in our country was once the envy of the world. The demise began when voters bought into the nonsense that increasing class size would not have a negative impact on educational outcomes. Larger class size was sold as an alternative to building more schools…i.e., a cost saving adventure that also reduced the footprint of government. Wow, who could resist?
    It should be clear by now that some elected officials are engaged in a continuing effort to defund public education until the system is completely destroyed. The long term goal has always been the privatization of our primary educational system.
    Today, many college graduates are faced with crippling student loan debt. This dilemma can be traced to one event: The privatization of the Student Loan Program.
    You know…get the government out of education.

  13. More classroom days just means more days of the kids watching movies like “Stand and Deliver” because it’s about math.

    So what happened again with the women lawyers that were going to come to the capitol and speak with the state representatives to find solutions to our current problems?

  14. At least there is half a million or more funding for the country’s largest law firm to give OU a proctology exam. At this age there’s no telling what goes or grows in the bowels of this bureaucracy.

  15. School Choice is as mythical as Bigfoot in McCurtain County. You want true school choice? Force rich districts to accept a reasonable number of transfer students. I get it, lot’s of argument on how rich districts are over crowded, etc. But the said transfer’s state dollars follow them. Want to make the suburban crowd squeemish? Tell them they have to allow some diversity and poverty into their kid’s daily routine.

    1. Do you have children? I suggest you move them to a low income part of the city so you and your spawn can enjoy all of the poverty and diversity that life has to offer.

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