Monday, July 29, 2019

The State’s Role in Education Funding, By State Rep. Jim Olsen

State Rep. Jim Olsen

One of the reasons I pursued office was because of the state of our K-12 education system in Oklahoma. Education is critical to the future of our children, families and state as a whole. 

The majority of parents in Oklahoma choose traditional public education for their children. In order for our children to be ready for a 21st century job market, our school system must establish a strong foundation for our children. 

There are several ingredients essential to an effective education: discipline, order, respect for authority, obedience, and love of truth, as well as curriculum that is academically challenging, historically accurate, patriotic, and honoring of the Bible’s ethics and morality. 

The shared commitment of parents, teachers and administrators to these values is crucial, as are sufficient financial resources that make education possible. Most of these values are taken care of at the local level and within the classroom. Some of the financial resources are taken care of at the local level as well through ad valorem, or more commonly property taxes. Another portion of schools funding comes from the federal government. 

At the state level, there are two kinds of financial resources. There is apportioned, or “off the top,” and appropriated money. The Legislature has no control over the apportioned money, as set by statute. The appropriated money is what the Legislature has control over. 

I’m pleased to report great news as far as this part of the picture! This year, the Legislature appropriated money to accomplish a number of our goals we set for this session. We passed a $1,200 pay raise for teachers and designated $74 million to the classroom. 

Overall, over the last two years, the Legislature has increased education appropriations by over 26%. This is a strong demonstration of our commitment to bettering common education! Year by year, we will continue to increase our financial support for common education as we are financially able. 

Now that the Legislature has initiated its part regarding funding, let’s work together as a community to ensure other critical ingredients to educational success and the timeless values that will ensure our success are fostered, protected and allowed to flourish. If we honor the values of the Bible and God, He will honor us and bless our efforts in the education of our children! 

Rep. Jim Olsen represents District 2 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes portions of Seqouyah County.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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