There is little question that the oil and gas industry is vital to our state. It holds up our economy like no other industry and helped sustain us, while other states were hemorrhaging red ink. Although the energy sector accounts for approximately one out of seven jobs in our state, Oklahoma children account for 100 percent of every student in Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Funding education adequately should be a priority. Funding it more than any other state in the union should be our goal.
State officials seem to disagree. They have repeatedly prioritized the oil and gas companies' profits over our children's education and it is time they stop.
That is why educators rallied at the capitol on Monday. Not over something as simple as teacher raises, or as seemingly unsubstantial as new football uniforms. More than 100 Newcastle educators, and at least 25,000 Oklahomans came together because it is time the state put education funding at the top of the list.
Newcastle Superintendent Tony O'Brien explains the issue and its implications for Newcastle Schools in our new education section on Page 3 of the Pacer. This section is a product of the importance that education has on our community and the state. The Pacer strives to shine a light on our students and keep the community informed about school events and accomplishments. We place the children front and center, along with the issues that affect their education, as our elected leaders should.
State reps seem more consumed with envy of our southern neighbor than the proper education of our youth. One example of this is the income tax. Texas has no income taxes, and our leaders want to follow their lead. Yet, there isn't a substantial plan offered to generate the lost revenue. This could lead to further cuts in education.
Regardless if we call it "the repeal of the income tax" or "increased property taxes," the government will get money from us somehow. That is not going to change. What will, and should, change is what they do with that money. They should stop giving it to a sector that doesn't need it and start investing it in our state's students.
Representatives that think it is a good idea to cut income taxes, or maintain low tax rates for wealthy corporations, while defunding education, clearly need to go back to school. But unless we increase the education budget, they should probably enroll somewhere in Texas.