By John Collison
Oklahoma Farm Bureau Vice President of Public Policy
Greetings from the state Capitol, where we get a lot of things done, but I’m not sure many of them really matter. We now have spent six weeks on bills that had to get out of the House or Senate to remain alive in the process, but I’m not sure any of them make much of a difference.
You can’t really blame the legislators of today because this is how the process is set up. I believe your legislators would like to focus on the budget, but the system is built to focus on policy due to deadlines and other issues.
We’ve seen great wailing and gnashing of teeth at the Capitol on issues such as education, guns and–don’t forget–the budget. Over the past few weeks, I called on our membership to take an active role in the education of our children and how we affect the policy of that issue.
Lately, too many bills have tried to pick education apart bit by bit, without creating any plan for the future. We have asked state leaders for a road map for the future, so we have some idea how to fix the problems. While we need their help to solve the education crisis, they also need our help. We must be proactive in solving issues like funding, failing schools and all other problems in public education.
For far too long, we have only tried to maintain the status quo; that will not work in the future. We must stop pitting rural and urban against each other and start looking at all underperforming schools. We also need to develop a funding formula that works for all and allow schools to have a normal existence.
We are trying to work alongside the state superintendent of schools to come up with a plan for the future of Oklahoma’s public education. A plan of certainty and success. A plan that will stop legislators from trying to educate our students from 23rd and Lincoln. A plan that really starts educating and funding schools at the local level.
We do have a problem in education, and that problem is a lack of vision and a lack of planning. With Farm Bureau’s help, I’m hopeful we can find a solution for education that will prepare our children for their future and for the future of Oklahoma.