It's often said that so much of our State's economy revolves around money related to oil and gas drilling, and that recent downturn is a big part of what's impacting education. But what if Oklahoma could have planned better?
Education experts look to North Dakota for the answers. Back in 2010 voters there approved something called the Legacy Fund. It mandated that 30 percent of oil and gas revenue be set aside in this new fund to be used later. That money can't be touched until at least June of next year. There's already more than $600 million of it earmarked for education.
Spending per student is often cited as a good comparison between states when it comes to overall education funding.
In our News On 6 poll from earlier this month, 65 percent of registered voters said too little is spent on kindergarten through 12th grade public education in our state. Those results seem to match the data.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Oklahoma ranked 47th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Our state spent just more than $8,751 per student. We rank below every neighboring state and significantly under the national average of almost $12,400 per pupil a year.
For comparison, Washington, D.C. ranks first, spending nearly $30,000 per student. But which state actually has the best schools? According to the 2015 Education Week rankings, Massachusetts and New Jersey came in one and two.
Oklahoma ranks 48th out of 51 and was awarded with a D-plus. Only New Mexico, Nevada and Mississippi ranked lower. In the middle of the pack on the list, Iowa at 24th.
Leaders there are trying some innovative things to reform their education system; things some in Oklahoma say could work here.