Report: Oklahoma has made the deepest school funding cuts in the nation

9-12-13sfp-f1A new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that Oklahoma has made the deepest cuts to school funding in the nation since the start of the recession. The report is a follow-up of last year’s study that showed Oklahoma’s per pupil spending cuts were third highest in the nation.

Per student funding of Oklahoma’s K-12 education formula is down by 22.8 percent since 2008, according to the report. The percentage cut in Oklahoma is the largest of any state. It works out to a decrease of $810 per student, adjusted for inflation.

Even though the state’s economy has emerged from the recession, per student funding continues to drop. In the most recent fiscal year, funding fell another 1.2 percent, or $33 per student. Though total state funding increased slightly for FY 2014, it was not even enough to cover rising enrollment and increased costs due to inflation. 

Total state appropriations for common education have fallen by $220 million since FY 2008. Results of these cuts have included rising class sizes, eliminated electives and advanced classes, and reduced funding for remediation programs to help students who are struggling to pass state-mandated tests. The report’s authors pointed out that reducing investment in schools also has long-term economic consequences.

“At a time when the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, states should be investing more — not less — to ensure our kids get a strong education,” said Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and co-author of the report.

At least 34 states are providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit. Besides Oklahoma, the deepest cuts have occurred in Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, and Idaho. Fourteen states have increased school funding since the recession. North Dakota had the largest increase (27.2 percent), followed by Iowa, Connecticut, Wyoming, and Maryland.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Perry joined OK Policy in January 2011. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism. Gene also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and has chaired the communications advisory committee for the State Priorities Partnership, a nationwide network of state fiscal policy think tanks. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kara Joy McKee, who is a Tulsa City Councilor.

14 thoughts on “Report: Oklahoma has made the deepest school funding cuts in the nation

  1. …and that’s why everybody needs to buy lottery tickets or place bets in one of the ‘palaces of bad math’ casinos, so we can raise money to test and retest the kids till that pass sumpin’. THE POLITICIANS all failed the test !

    1. For your information, There is loads of people going broke because they do spend all the money in the casinos and on lottery tickets. Oklahoma’s money matters only concerns whom pocket’s it fits best. And right now That basket ball team, and a bigger city is all that concerns them. Not an education. which is down right sad. I had hopes to move back to home, but now Im reconsidering. I want my kids to be able to thrive, not be told “the sky is blue” for 12 years.

  2. Why are only 48 states listed? Hawaii and Indiana are not listed. Being from Indiana I would like to know the statistics on this as our anti-education legislative body won’t tell us the truth.

    1. They weren’t able to calculate it for Indiana or Hawaii because those states don’t publish funding data in a way that allowed for historical comparisons.

  3. From what I have read here, I do not see that there have been “funding cuts”… but an increase in funding that has not kept up with ratio of students and dollars available. I believe more information is needed in order to properly inform the public, such as explaining an Oklahoma “decrease of $810 per student” from what, and how does that measure up to other states?

  4. I would like to know what is being spent per student by state. Percentages are relative – if you start out spending $100 and its reduced 10% ($90), you are still spending more than if you started out spending $10 and its reduced by only 1% ($9). This is a poorly researched and incomplete article. More information is needed for a clear picture.

  5. Education it seems, has never been a top priority on the Oklahoma legislative agenda. Politicians want to attract new growth, boost the economy, and pay themselves–along with educational administrators. However, in their idle ideology, our legislators seem to throw the teachers under the bus by not budgeting for education, and paying teachers an embarrassing meager salary that practically borders the poverty level… Will teachers even have a retirement by the time our Great State is through with us?
    Wake up before you lose the excellent educators you still have! Has anyone stopped to think why we have a teacher shortage in OK? It’s going to take more than one small raise every now and then to keep highly qualified teachers, while insurance keeps climbing higher and higher, and the cost of living is increasing…Oklahomans should be smarter than this!!! Are we really investing in our future?

    An Overworked, Underpaid, Educator

  6. Does anybody besides me remember the song and dance when they where trying to get the lottery passed and all the half and one cent taxes for our schools what happened to all that money? I mean really people Our government needs to be held liable for spending I follow a fire chief truck (paided for by tax dollars fuel included) drive from two countys away to the town where he is chief of the fire dept.I follow this truck every single day at the same time so I know he is on his way to work. Bet you money he has never paid for gas once. How many times have you seen any county vehicle being used for the drivers personal business. I have to pay for my own gas to get back and forth to work, grocery store ect. why because these people drive county vehicles they can use for personal use. I personally think its bulls%$t.

  7. Oklahoma, we have a problem. I am a single mom with a Master’s Degree in Multicultural Education. I have been an educator for over 15 years. Everyday after bus duty I race to my car hoping I will get to my second job on time. I donate plasma twice a week for grocery/gas money. I am unable to pay back my student loans. My kids qualify for the free lunch program. Oklahoma, we have a problem.

  8. Teacher salaries in Oklahoma are about 16 percent lower than their peers working in Texas and 28 percent lower than median salaries for similar workers in Oklahoma s private sector, according to a November report released from the school boards association.

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