, Muskogee, OK

April 22, 2008

About Your School: Superintendent calls bill an attack on public schools

By Derald Glover

Everyone knows that education must continually improve and change. Everyone also knows that the United States has become powerful by attempting to educate all kids with an equal education. I am writing this article to make people aware of a bill at our state Legislature that will open the door to taxpayer dollars being siphoned to private schools.

Senate Bill 2093, the so called “New Hope Scholarship Program,” is an all-out attack mode on public education. The measure would give a 50 percent tax credit to individuals who donate to a fund providing private school scholarships. This tax credit would be on top of any charitable tax deductions donors already receive.

The Oklahoma bill creates a voucher system that would take public dollars and transfer them through the use of tax credits to private schools. The end result is still fewer resources left for those students who remain in public schools.

In the past three or four years, the Legislature has given more than $700 million to the wealthy in tax cuts. That, in a time when, education, roads and bridges, prisons and the Department of Human Services are all underfunded. This voucher credit is another tax cut for the wealthy.

As of April 16, schools do not have a budget allocation for next year, even though the law gives April 1st as the deadline for this to occur. What’s even worse is that after two years of record collections for the state, schools have not been funded for the current year in the amount promised last session.

No doubt, public schools have room to improve, but they are certainly not as bad as the those who promote vouchers want to indicate. Our public schools are required to teach all children. That’s the rich, poor, those with special needs, and those with language barriers. Private schools have the luxury of selecting the privileged few. If the Legislature would fund schools properly (just meet the regional average for per pupil expenses) and eliminate the unfunded mandates, improvement will occur.

Passage of SB 2093 will further erode funding for public education. As vouchers expand, less funding will be available for public education. If this continues, we will see more segregation of the rich and the poor. This goes against the very idea of “public education.” Competition is great and I would totally support a voucher plan that required any school that accepts a dollar of taxpayer money to be subject to the same legal requirements as is imposed on a public school. However that will not happen.

Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to kill SB 2093.

School happenings

• Our high school just finished the North Central Accreditation Process this past week. This extensive process involved a thorough evaluation of our school’s strategic plan and the implementation of that plan at the high school level.

Our staff did a tremendous job with special thanks going out to those who worked on our NCA team. Our stakeholders including parents, students, and two of our board members did a tremendous job of testifying about our school.

The visiting team was very impressed with our school and has informed us that we will be fully accredited. Congratulations to Mr. Sparks and our high school team!

• We had two students take top honors at the Muskogee Area Art competition this past week. Congratulations to our students and Ms. Mayo!!

• Our baseball team competed well in our tournament this past weekend. They and the softball girls compete in the playoffs this week. Track will be competing in Regionals soon. Our girls’ soccer team will host playoffs in a little over a week. Our boys finished their season playing hard in the rain against Webster. Good Luck to all of our athletes!

• Our kids had a great time at the Fort last Friday for the Heritage Festival. We are fortunate to have such an opportunity to view a historic site such as the Fort. Our first-graders performed for the “Golden Agers.” They did some songs from their upcoming musical. They did great!!

• Our band had a tremendous showing at State last week. They received a “one” on stage and a “two” in sight reading. They just missed making achieving “Sweepstakes” for the year. We are very proud of Mrs. Spyres, Hopkins, and the kids. Great job!!