Sunday, February 1, 2015

Can Goldilocks Get The Right Schools

In Search of the Just Right Education

Oklahoma's public school districts have not been restructured in decades; leaving most children poorly served.
  Of the ridiculously high number of Oklahoma school districts (529), only 6% (33) are even set up to optimize the best use of tax dollars and other resources. The think-tanks most dedicated to studying the correlation of district size have determined that the range of 2,000 to 4,000 students is the most manageable size to deliver quality and cost-effective education.

  Children who are subjected to larger districts will have a proportionately higher likelihood of getting less education than the taxpayers have paid for. Children who are channeled into too small of a district will not receive access to many education resources simply because it is not affordable in such a small scale.
Only 33 of the 529 school districts are within the target size.

  Teachers have very few options when district administrators put their own careers ahead of the professionals who are actually doing the educating. Too often, administrators have become experts at rallying mobs to the capitol under the guise of fixing the dysfunctional local bureaucracy with emergency transfusions of cash.  And the Oklahoma legislators commonly put their pandering skills ahead of fiscal responsibility. So the bleeding of waste continues with no signs of a hero on the horizon.

 Tomorrow, the legislature starts their "earnest" (if you can call it that, with a straight face) effort to pay the bills for an educational system which used to only be a small fraction of the state's fiscal expenses. Now it accounts for the majority of the state budget. When you add property taxes and bond issues, the taxpayer is obviously frustrated that little is left to cover every other state institution and concern.

  We demand so much of of the education process and we receive such poor marks for execution. We admire great teachers and wish there were more dedicated educators. We had hoped that term limit reform would free up legislators to quit caring about their next election and instead, provide the wise choices to put our state's education system on firm footing. But too often, the senior legislators are spending their last term in elective office pandering to lobbying firms and other golden parachutes for their next phase of life.

  There are inner heroes within most of them. Personalities who want leave a legacy of reform. But too many are succumbed to the praises of the bureaucrats they can see and hear, rather than believe the children of several generations to come will appreciate their courage.
David Van Risseghem

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