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The Oklahoma GOP has proposed $300 million in funding for classroom supplies and technology, with the money distributed unequally. Rural districts will receive more money than urban and suburban school districts, which will face a limit on spending.

According to Max Bryan of Public Radio Tulsa, the move is in conjunction with Oklahoma legislators promoting school choice. The bill’s supporters insist the funding will support smaller school districts.

However, the bill will simultaneously hurt larger districts like Tulsa Public Schools, which will see a cap on spending. The cap for school funding will be $2 million per district.

In a rural area like Sand Springs, that means districts will receive over $300 per student to spend on education. But in TPS, funding per pupil is capped at $60.

Essentially, the proposal would mean that children of the Historic Greenwood District, whose ancestors were deprived of equal education when a White mob reduced Black Wall Street to rubble, would receive less funding per pupil than children from rural districts in the state. 

The move is nonsensical to many educators and former educators. State representative John Waldron (D-Tulsa), a former TPS teacher, says the move is “a way to get rural legislators on board” with school vouchers.

Oklahoma GOP caps education funding for urban school districts

Representative Melodye Blancett, whose district covers much of TPS’ education district, noted the bill will hurt students in larger school districts. Representative Blancett asked, “Doesn’t it seem illogical to you that you would put a $2 million cap for the largest school districts?” 

She continued, “Say, for instance, they needed computers. If they have a $2 million cap, they can’t supply their students to the degree that smaller school districts could, because they’re capped at that $2 million. Did you think about a ratio for a cap?”

A ratio for a cap would create more equality among the education districts receiving the funding. A rural school district would receive the same amount per student as an urban school district. 

Meanwhile, Oklahoma legislators are still promoting school choice for parents as their number one priority.

Both Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters support a school voucher program for families.

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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