The Guardian UK recently published a deep and enlightening dive into the fortunes of Oklahoma, the Republican-dominated state where the petroleum industry largely holds sway over environmental regulations, fracking-driven earthquakes rattle the land, school teachers make less than convenience store clerks, 1-in-12 residents has a felony conviction, and Gov. Mary Fallin’s best idea to help stave off an ongoing budget meltdown was to proclaim Oilfield Prayer Day, asking Oklahoma residents to use the power of prayer to resurrect slumping global oil prices.
As seen in the Guardian story, the state is now 49th in teacher pay, with spending per student dropping by 26.9 percent since 2008. The education funding situation is so dire that the Cherokee Nation, which surely has a 200-plus year old ax to grind with state and federal government of all forms, recently chipped in $5 million bucks to the state’s education fund.
From the article:
At Oklahoma Policy Institute, a progressive thinktank, the policy analyst Carly Putnam says education is only one part of the state’s dysfunction. Putnam cites the example of a popular support program for developmental disabilities which gave families of limited means resources to take care of their loved ones. It takes roughly 10 years just to get on a waiting list to be considered for the support waiver to help a disabled person, meaning applications filed in 2006 are just now being considered. Many of the disabled patients have died by the time their files are being considered.