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

A new report finds that Oklahoma has made the deepest cuts to school funding in the nation since the start of the recession. Per student funding of Oklahoma’s K-12 education formula is down by 22.8 percent since 2008, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. The percentage cut in Oklahoma is the largest of any state.

“Oklahoma can’t compete in the modern economy without a well-educated workforce,” said Gene Perry, a policy analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute. “We are depriving our children and shooting ourselves in the foot with these cuts to education.”

Since 2008, Oklahoma’s K-12 funding is down $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.

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.

“We’re demanding more from our children with harder tests and curriculum,” Perry said. “At the same time, we’re taking away resources that help them learn. What kind of message does that send?”

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.

The Center’s full report can be found at


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. 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.

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