Roy Bishop may have missed his calling. A history and world geography teacher during his years in the classroom in Stillwater, Bishop, now head of the state's largest teacher union, may want to consider teaching a course in public speaking, with an emphasis on sarcasm.
Plenty of that was on display last week as Bishop's organization, the Oklahoma Education Association, officially announced its effort to get the state to fork over an additional $850 million per year to common education. The OEA wants voters to amend the state constitution so that per-pupil expenditures are brought to the regional average, which now is about $8,300 per student. The OEA says Oklahoma spends $6,900 per student. Opponents of the proposal, including some Republican lawmakers, pointed out that giving common ed another $850 million would require either significant tax increases or significant cuts to other agencies. That prompted this from Bishop: "The legislative leaders over the last couple of years have told every one of us that have gone up to lobby that the tax cuts were very important to grow the Oklahoma economy. We believe those people will know what they're talking about, and in two or three years, we're going to have enough money to fund all our services.” The only thing missing was a rim-shot, although there wasn't much funny about it. Tax cuts enacted in recent years aren't the problem. The problem is that no amount of money has ever been enough for the OEA, and won't ever be because the union's chief objective is to retain the status quo. Educators plan to file their initiative petition this week, then begin the work of collecting the signatures needed to place this question on the ballot. We wish them all the best.