OSSBA Executive Director Shawn Hime offered the following statement regarding the state Education Department’s analysis of Gov. Fallin’s Executive Order:
The governor’s executive order was an ill-conceived political distraction that was on shaky constitutional ground from the moment she signed it.
Superintendent Hofmeister’s firm stand to respect the constitutional authority of the legislature, the state board of education and local boards of education is commendable.
Administrative costs — already capped in state law — aren’t the problem. Districts are sharing superintendents; working cooperatively to provide shared student services, academic opportunities and athletics; and partnering with other districts or other governmental entities for financial services. Over time, communities are choosing to consolidate schools when they believe it’s in the best interest of children.
At the state Capitol and at the ballot box, Oklahomans have made clear that the teacher shortage, large class sizes, program cuts and the lack of support services are unacceptable. We want and need state leaders focused on solutions to the crisis in our classrooms.
The state’s largest-ever teacher pay raise and a record increase in education funding are evidence of what’s possible when collaboration is prioritized over politics. Those important investments are great building blocks toward sustained investment in our students and their schools.
Oklahoma remains last in our region when it comes to per-student education investment. A long-term plan to reach the regional average so our schools have the proper resources to provide more educational opportunities and support for students is long overdue. Two things of which I’m certain: Our children are worth it and political pandering is a poor substitute for leadership.