At its Oct. 5 stated meeting, Indian Nations Presbytery approved the statement regarding the state’s budgeting process and needs of children in Oklahoma:
“In recent days, the governor and legislative leaders have proposed that next year’s budget will be flat, and that in order to attract business, the state should begin the process of lowering the state income tax. Yet critical state services continue to be underfunded, including programs that serve the needs of children in education.
"Significant cuts in education funding have been made that provide for the very needs of vulnerable children. For example, The Children’s Defense Fund reports that Oklahoma is 49th in per pupil expenditures
"1. According to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, over the past three years, funding to school districts through state appropriations has been slashed by $253 million, while enrollment has grown by 22,000 students
"2. Oklahoma ranks 34th in the nation for its high school graduation rate, according to the National report “Diplomas Count 2011” \
"3. Education Week reports that students in Oklahoma are scoring well below the national average on the National Assessment of Education Progress
"4. According to the 2012 Statistical Abstract of the United States, our state ranks 43rd in the nation for persons 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree, or more
"5. All of these variables will have a negative impact on the future welfare of children and youth, which will therefore impact on the future quality of life for children in Oklahoma, and their ability to reach their full potential.
"Therefore, the Indian Nations Presbytery affirms that the State of Oklahoma make a commitment to increase education funding so that all vital education services, having an effect on the lives of children, can be fully funded.
"We believe that from a practical, and moral perspective, the lives of these children and youth can be, and needs to be, enhanced so that they can live to realize their fullest promise as citizens of Oklahoma, and our country.
"Furthermore, we believe that as a faith community, we have a responsibility to be a part of the solution. Therefore, we commit up to $25,000 in grant funds, which can be used by Indian Nations Presbytery churches to develop supportive school programs for children and youth.
"An example might be providing tutoring services. These programs should supplement and complement what social service agencies are already accomplishing. The programming would be developed in consultation with agencies providing supportive services, in order not to duplicate what is already available in communities.”
Our hope is that in partnering with local and state government leadership, the educational needs of Oklahoma’s youngest citizens may be realized. We believe that by serving Oklahoma’s children and youth, not only is the future of the state served, but Jesus Christ is, as well.