Coburn Blasts NEA, State Question 744
In a statement today about emergency school aid to Oklahoma and other states, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, blasted the National Education Association and State Question 744, which will be on the ballot in Oklahoma in November and would require a guaranteed level of funding for education in the state.
“Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution give Congress the authority to be responsible for teacher pay in Oklahoma. Teacher pay is a state and local function that should be performed at the state and local level,” Coburn said.
“During this debate I was also reminded why I believe organizations like the NEA are responsible for creating this crisis. President Dennis Van Roekel claimed that my ‘vote reflected a troubling lack of understanding about the impact of this crisis on our students, our communities, and our nation.’ Yet, it is the NEA itself that helped create this crisis by protecting a monopoly of mediocrity in our public education system that is threatening the ability of our workforce to compete in a global economy.
“The union’s critique is especially troubling given the fiscal damage the union is actively working to inflict on the State of Oklahoma. The NEA plans to spend up to $3 million on an Oklahoma School Funding Initiative slated to be on the ballot this November (State Question 744) which would require the legislature to raise school per-pupil spending to the regional average. This is a wrong-headed proposal. Studies show it is the quality of the teacher – not class size or pay level – that determines outcomes for students.
“Plus, this proposal would cost taxpayers in Oklahoma $1.7 billion in its three-year phase-in period alone. The Oklahoma Policy Institute says this initiative ‘would create real and serious damage to the state of Oklahoma.
“If anyone has demonstrated a ‘lack of understanding,’ it is organizations like the NEA who block real reform while spending millions on initiatives that will create a severe funding shortage for all other functions of our state government.”
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