Members of a group opposing a state question that would increase funding to education say the state’s education system needs to examine ways to be more efficient and effective with money it already receives. Restore Oklahoma Public Education is urging Oklahomans to oppose State Question 744, which will be on the ballot in November. SQ 744 seeks to increase Oklahoma’s per-pupil spending to the regional average. Opponents argue mandating funding for education will endanger other state services. Jenni White, president of the group, said the state’s public education system is already flush with cash. The way to improve public instruction would be to make sure more of those dollars get to students and teachers, not administration. "We’re for public education,” she said. "But we have to start holding people accountable. Public education is becoming like a cartel, and people are just trying to protect their piles of money.”
Ballot wording eyedMembers of the grassroots group are working to educate voters about the need to reform and streamline the state’s education system, White said. Members of Restore Oklahoma Public Education argue the ballot language in SQ 744 is very confusing. "We really have to educate people,” White said. "We have a long ballot this year, and people may just check yes because they see it’s for the kids, but it’s not.” The group’s ranks have grown in the past few months and its mailing list now includes nearly 150 people, said John Kezbers, treasurer of the group. Members of the group also urged people to become more involved with their school districts on the local level. "Whether you have a child in school or not, you pay taxes and you still pay for public education,” White said. "It’s everybody’s problem.” Several groups — including a coalition that includes The State Chamber — oppose the state question, saying it would jeopardize funding to other state services. Officials estimate SQ 744 would cost $850 million a year.