Guns vs. Butter…… Teachers Vs. Buildings

The Lottery Pie

We’ve heard it – you’ve heard it…. “that Oklahoma lottery sure didn’t perform as promised, did it?”  Easy enough to believe because education remains severely underfunded in Oklahoma and in a severe teacher shortage.  The lottery sure didn’t fix that.

Some of us on the porch were discussing Joy Hofmeister’s plan to increase teacher pay — and we wondered about lottery funds.  That led to a discussion about where lottery money is going, and that led to us wondering exactly what that constitutional lottery provision really said back in 2004.

One of the discussers decided to look it up. The people did not say what percentages that the legislature must use to divide the lottery education pie.  Much to our surprise, it turns out the legislature decides the percentages.  The legislature has decided to give everyone a slice of the “lottery trust fund” pie.

How Lottery Money is Being Spent

The largest percentage of lottery trust fund money is going to common education – 45%.  We have no problem with this.  Zip. Nada.

That is exactly what the good people of Oklahoma believed they were supporting when they voted for the lottery.  We also have no problem with the 5% that goes to the teachers retirement system.

But as to that other 50% —

Did you know……..

– Lottery money is being used to endow chairs for professors at Oklahoma colleges;

– Lottery money is being used to provide scholarships for college students;

– Lottery money is being used to buy IPads for vo-tech schools (we love vo-techs, love their mission, love them…. but they are not having the same funding issues as common ed);

– Lottery money is being used for scholarships for teachers at vo-techs for professional development;

– Lottery money is being used to build nice new buildings at 26 Oklahoma college campuses;

– Lottery money is being used to fund a school consolidation account which is just sitting there because schools are decidedly not consolidating

Guns vs. Butter

Common education is in a funding crisis.  If there wasn’t a funding crisis and a teacher shortage, we would have no problems with scholarships and endowed chairs and shiny new college buildings.  But the teacher shortage is real and scary.

Members of the House and Senate — you can fix this.

Re-direct that 50% being used for shiny new buildings and endowed chairs until the common ed teacher shortage is passed.

Buildings vs. Teachers – Guns vs. Butter

We believe that a qualified teacher in the classroom is worth much more than a shiny new college building.  Basic macroeconomics.

We vote for teachers and butter.

No brainer.