OKLAHOMA CITY -- Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-OKC, and Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa, issued the following statements in response to the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency report on K-12 education funding.
LOFT’s Priority Evaluation: Distribution of State Funding for K-12 Public Education report identified systemic issues with how public education is funded in Oklahoma, specifically, how the formula can be modified to support English learners and how concentrated poverty areas are underfunded compared to their peers in neighboring states.
Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-OKC:
“The report presented by LOFT and the data provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education highlighted the complexities of public education funding in Oklahoma. While there are adjustments to be made to simplify and modernize the formula to meet students’ needs today, our priority must be continued financial investment into the funding formula.
“The evaluation made clear that our school districts must be well-resourced in order to ensure high academic achievement while overcoming the barrier of poverty. As was noted in the LOFT meeting, Oklahoma has the highest percentage of concentrated poverty in the nation, therefore we know exactly where our investments need to be. Our students deserve it and our economic future depends on it.”
Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa:
“LOFT's report on education funding showed that Oklahoma students are affected by poverty at a rate higher than the rest of the country. As the report noted, there is also a direct correlation between being economically disadvantaged and poor educational attainment. Economically disadvantaged students are also much more likely to drop out than their peers.
“This was also pointed out in a more detailed manner in LOFT’s Early Childhood Education report in January 2022.
“If we indeed do want to be a higher performing state in educational outcomes and economic prosperity – then we as a legislative body have a responsibility to develop a comprehensive strategy that reduces poverty, which ultimately will result in higher educational attainment and a stronger workforce pipeline. Addressing this issue with a bill here and a bill there without a broader strategy will not get us there. Neither will comparing Oklahoma’s dollars spent on education to states that have a lesser percentage of economically disadvantaged students.”