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After ’90 school reform, Oklahoma again falls behind

After ’90 school reform, Oklahoma again falls behind


20 years ago, HOUSE BILL 1017 mandated smaller class sizes, started prekindergarten program


Published: April 19, 2010

Thousands of teachers walked out of their Oklahoma classrooms during this week in 1990, storming the state Capitol in support of an education reform bill heralded by Democrats as a step away from underfunded classrooms and underpaid educators. "It was an exciting time. I’ve never done anything like that before or since then,” said Jene McCasland, a 28-year elementary teacher in Norman Public Schools. "I think maybe we did something good.”

Twenty years later, House Bill 1017 has collected $7.2 billion in taxes specifically for education. It mandated smaller class sizes, kickstarted the state’s prekindergarten program and equalized state-aid contributions between "rich” and "poor” school districts.

But despite the immediate infusion of cash for teacher salaries and smaller class sizes — much to the delight of McCasland and her peers — the state’s education funding has remained among the lowest in the nation.

In 1998 — a year marked by the state’s recession — Oklahoma ranked 47th among states for average teacher salaries and 46th for per-pupil expenditures, according to the National Education Association database... FULL ARTICLE


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