In One Oklahoma County, The Local GOP Seeks To End Publicly-Funded Education

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The Republican Party in Canadian County, Oklahoma sent a letter to state lawmakers calling for cuts to public education.

The Republican Party in Canadian County, Oklahoma sent a letter to state lawmakers calling for cuts to public education.

The Republican Party in Canadian County, Oklahoma is lobbying state lawmakers to enact sharp cuts to public education funding, with apparent hopes of eliminating such taxpayer funding altogether.

From The Washington Post:

The party in Canadian — the fourth-largest county in the state —is sending a letterto the Oklahoma legislature calling for swift cuts in education funding. It says, “If public education shall continue as a state institution, we should move towards reducing its dependence on the tax structure by funding it through such means as sponsorships, advertising, endowments, tuition fees, etc.”

An earlier version of the letter, according to KFOR News 4, was more explicit: “A better pathway would be to abolish public education, which is not a proper role of government, and allow the free market to determine pay and funding, eliminating the annual heartache we experience over this subject.”

Andrew Lopez, the county’s party leader, acknowledged to News 4 that there is “going to be a transition period between properly funding and dealing with education as a public institution and letting the public assume their rightful responsibility of self-education and not allowing it to be a part of government’s role.”

Public education advocates have grown increasingly alarmed by those on the right pushing cuts to education funding or eliminating government-sponsored education altogether.

The rise of Betsy DeVos as head of the Education Department under President Donald Trump has also caused concern among public school supporters.

Long a proponent of expanding alternatives to traditional public schools, DeVos has called public schools “a dead end” and supports using public funds to pay for private and religious schools. She has not called for an end to public education. But she has said she would like to see the Education Department closed, and her critics say she wants to privatize public schools. As for Trump, he called public schools part of “American carnage” in his 2017 inaugural address.

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This is the full education passage in the Canadian County’s GOP letter:

If you are a teacher who has entered the legislature with the purpose of increasing funding for Oklahoma classrooms, please consider that, without the tax increases of HB 1010XX, our state saw increased revenue by almost $1.2 billion over last year’s collections. Rather than raise taxes, it would be more appropriate to find budget savings and efficiencies with forensic audits and by cutting administrative costs through school district consolidations and downsizing the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Realistically, there should be, at most, a school district for each county with additional school districts allowed for Oklahoma City and Tulsa. If public education shall continue as a state institution, we should move towards reducing its dependence on the tax structure by funding it through such means as sponsorships, advertising, endowments, tuition fees, etc. Very few of our 500+ school districts spend at least 65% of their budgets in the classroom. We insist that you pass legislation that requires school districts to direct at least 65% of their annual spend to the classroom, where the two most important people are, the teacher and the student.

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