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OCPA Responds To Education Rally At Capitol

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OCPA Senior Vice President Brandon Dutcher said the main problem with public schools in Oklahoma is not money. OCPA Senior Vice President Brandon Dutcher said the main problem with public schools in Oklahoma is not money.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Thousands converged on the state capitol Monday to rally for legislators to put education first when it comes to funding.

School districts statewide face millions of dollars in budget cuts next year, but a conservative think tank said more money isn't the answer.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) believes spending in education continues to go up, but student performance remains flat. The conservative non-profit said there's a better way to make ends meets, and just throwing more money at the same system is not the answer.

"We just thought it was odd to rally for more money when education revenues have never been higher," OCPA Senior Vice President Brandon Dutcher said.

Dutcher said the main problem with public schools in Oklahoma is not money.

"I don't care if we give them more money or less money. I'm agnostic on that question," said Dutcher. "What I care is for students to learn more, and I think the best way to do that is to give parents choices, rather than giving the monopoly more money." 

3/31/2014 Related Story: Edmond Public Schools Says Budget Is In Crisis

"And it's not throw more money at it, it's just give us the money to operate," Elizabeth Luecke said.

Elizabeth Luecke is a sixth-grade English teacher at Sequoyah Middle School in Edmond. She was one of more than 700 teachers and administrators from the district asking for a permanent funding fix.

"And we're $4 million short in Edmond," Luecke added.

School administrators across the state said they are in a funding crisis, and it's a direct result of more than $200 million in cuts for common education.

"At a time when enrollments in this state are increasing rather dramatically," Edmond Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David Goin said.

"We've lost programs, we've lost classes, and our class sizes are becoming enormous," said Ponca City High School English teacher Amanda Lions. "I teach no smaller than 30 plus."

OCPA believes administrative growth has been eight times faster than student growth.

3/31/2014 Related Story: Thousands Of Teachers Join At Capitol To Rally For Education

"That's way too much administrative overhead," said Dutcher. "We could be giving teachers multi-thousand dollar raises."

"We just need the funding," Luecke said.

"We need the state to wake up and pay attention to us, please," Lions stated.

Edmonds school superintendent said just this school year the district received $8.2 million dollars less in state aid because of recent cuts.

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