Recent Blog Posts

Okie Funk Is Now Inactive

As many of my regular readers already know, I have moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and, for now, I'm blogging at my new site, The San Francisco Jammer. It's been a great 13 years for Okie Funk, and I appreciate all the support. I'm going to leave the blog up until April, 2018, but I will not be posting any new material. Many of Okie Funk posts were republished for a number a years on its companion blog Blue Oklahoma, which is now operated by Serena Blaiz, a longtime local progressive advocate. The earlier posts are contained in book form, which you can download from the site. I wish you and, of course, Serena the best of luck in the future. You can contact me through Facebook or my email. Best, Kurt Hochenauer


GOP Political Calculation Over Teacher Raises

Was the call among some Republican legislators for teacher raises just a sheer political calculation that made it seemed like they cared when they really knew an increase in pay for educators was never going to happen? It sure seems so now.

About a month ago, I wrote on Okie Funk:

The lack of an agreement on a funding plan may well mean at least some legislators want to be perceived as trying to fight for teacher raises when, in fact, they know that given the dire budget situation there’s no way any significant increase is possible.

So my earlier speculation was correct. There were no raises for teachers in the budget despite calls from Gov. Mary Fallin and House Speaker Charles McCall, both Republicans. In fact, back in April, House Republicans issued a statement that contained this gem of a quote from McCall that made it seemed like teacher raises were a foregone conclusion:

We are including in our budget proposal a line item to fund the first year of the teacher pay raise plan, just as we promised we would do. Our members heard from citizens over and over on the doorstep that a teacher pay raise was a priority of theirs, and it has been one of our top priorities for our members this entire session. The House and the Senate Appropriations Committee have both passed a bipartisan and realistic teacher pay plan that is awaiting the governor’s signature, and the House intends to fund the raise in our budget and send it to the Senate.

Well, that didn’t work out, did it? The lack of any raises for teachers in the budget is a real tragedy for Oklahoma. Teacher pay here ranks 48th in the nation, and teachers are leaving Oklahoma for other states that pay more and offer better benefits. Class sizes are growing, some schools have gone to a four-day week schedule and the state still has a college graduation rate that is significantly lower than the national average. Oh yeah, higher education funding was cut this coming fiscal year by 6.1 percent. Last year, it was cut by 16 percent.