WHEN it comes to creativity, the Oklahoma Education Association deserves a failing grade. Time and again, the state's largest teachers union has made clear that it cares more about teachers' paychecks, money grabs and the status quo than taxpayers and the state's overall well-being.
The latest evidence is an effort to amend the Oklahoma Constitution and force taxpayers to spend millions of dollars more per year on common education. The union has started an initiative petition drive to get the proposed amendment on a 2010 statewide ballot. If the drive is successful, voters would be asked to change the constitution and require lawmakers to fund schools at the regional average in per-pupil expenditures. The change could shift $850 million in state funding to common education from other state services or require tax increases. There's not much new here. Consider the history. In 1992, union officials lobbied for tax and spending decisions to stay with the Legislature and opposed a public vote on State Question 640. The proposition, which ultimately passed, gives voters the final say on tax increases. Six years later, OEA took the opposite route, seeking a public vote on a measure that would have required 62 percent of state revenues to be set aside for education. Lawmakers declined to put it on the ballot. Then in 2001, OEA opposed right to work, claiming that only more money earmarked for education would grow the economy. When those strategies didn't work, the union turned to the courts. In 2006, the union and three school districts sued the state and its legislative leaders alleging common education needed $1 billion more in annual funding.