Oklahoma!

By Tony Moorby April 19, 2018

“The roots of education are bitter but the fruit is very sweet.” Aristotle came up with that about 400 BC.

I’m sure that it referred to students’ feelings about being schooled – I, for one, didn’t enjoy every aspect of education. It depended greatly on the teachers, as to how attractive a particular subject may have been or how memorable the work became.

But my school days fueled a curiosity that has lasted a lifetime, much of it based on disciplines learned while still an early teenager.

I think the quote above also now applies to those responsible for education – not just the teachers but also those who fund the whole process including pay, facilities, textbooks and supporting social activities that promote mind-growth and civic responsibility.

The bitterness here refers to the cost. I understand that the returns are not immediate but a well-educated populace ensures our global competitiveness for well into the future. That competition is getting tougher by the year and to give education the short straw today will come home to roost to pay for out-of-work families forming lines for food stamps and all the other welfare obligations we will have to bear by then.

I’ve quoted Derek Bok of Harvard University before; “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” It strikes me that the Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, is missing the point regarding teachers, likening them to teenagers wanting a better car.

It’s either snooty or stupid to make comments like that when she’s had her university education and is now earning in excess of $132,000 a year. It smacks of ‘pull the ladder up, Jack. I’m OK.’

A great many schools in Oklahoma are on a four-day week because they can’t afford to turn the lights on or pay the teachers for the fifth. The students share torn and dog-eared textbooks – two students to one text book in classes of fifty or more kids. I’m sure there are third-world countries that do better than this. How can kids take their education seriously when the state obviously doesn’t?

Social and sports activities probably turn into groups of unfettered children, getting up to who knows what. What an unadulterated waste!

Teachers who are lower paid than in all their neighboring states are moving out – no surprise there. Education funding, when adjusted for inflation, had been reduced by almost 30 percent, per student in the last ten years.

Here’s an irony for you; Fallin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in human and environmental sciences, family relations and child development from Oklahoma State University. Maybe she wasn’t paying attention at the time or maybe her education wasn’t worth a flip!

As I write, the Oklahoma Senate is voting on a tax hike to accommodate education funding – the teachers want to work up to a $10,000 raise over the next three years. That might just help them make another car payment!

Unlike when I was growing up, when money for health spending, education and the like, were held separately and paid for by our parents (theirs being paid for by their parents) all this money goes into general funds and
accountability goes out the window.

Meanwhile, the state gave hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to energy companies who are now struggling in competitive markets.

I wonder about attracting companies to towns with tax breaks and subsidies to the tune of billions. Nashville is trying to attract Google and Amazon. Our infrastructure can’t handle who’s already here!

We gave Dell Computers an unmitigated fortune before they hightailed it out of town without the city getting anything back in employment terms or well-paid residents.

Maybe cities should redirect those funds to ease poverty and increase education funding. That would be sweet!

Last modified on Thursday, 19 April 2018 17:59