Oklahomans know that more spending won't help. SoonerPoll discovered in 2010 that 64 percent of Oklahomans disagree with this statement: “If more money is spent on public schools in my district, students will learn more.” Only 32 percent agree. In 2011, SoonerPoll found that fewer than one in four Oklahomans think taxpayers are getting a good return on their per-pupil investment.
Finally, we're dealing with a system that constitutional lawyer Clint Bolick describes as a “hidebound, bureaucratic, expensive, top-down, one-size-fits-all, command-and-control, inefficient, reform-resistant, administratively bloated, special-interest-manipulated, obsolete, impersonal bricks-and-mortar system that represents the most disastrous failure of central planning west of Communist China and south of the United States Postal Service.” Why would we give it more money?
Here's a better idea: vouchers, tax credits and Arizona-style education savings accounts. Education scholar Greg Forster reports that “23 empirical studies have examined school choice's impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact.”
Without parental choice, we're destined for (gulp) more of the same. “There has never been enough revenue for public education,” Tahlequah Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Presley says, “and there never will be.”
Dutcher is vice president for policy at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org).