JUNE 29, 2022
Pastors for Oklahoma Kids, a statewide non-denominational coalition of pastors supporting public school families and kids, congratulates the many public education defenders that overcame millions of dollars in dark money being spent by organizations and out-of-state dark money to defund public school systems.
According to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, OCPA staff members Trent England, Dave Bond, and Jon Small organized a dark-money group, “People for Opportunity”, that spent $404,018 against Republicans who stood up against their anti-public school vouchers as of June 18, 2022.
The Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth spent $658,135 against public education candidates. Walton-funded Oklahoma Federation for Children spent $70,000 against public schools.
Specifically, Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, Rep. Anthony Moore, R-Clinton, Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, and Rep. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City were targeted by anti-public school system dark money and all won their primaries.
Defunding public school systems remains an unpopular movement with 68 percent of Oklahomans being opposed to using taxpayer dollars to fund private school tuition in a recent survey conducted by conservative pollster, The Tarrance Group.
Despite this clear preference for funding local community public schools which serve all 77 counties and every zip code, Governor Kevin Stitt and his administration, including Secretary of Education Ryan Walters continue to push Education Savings Accounts which divert millions away from Oklahoma’s public school system into private schools and questionable purchases with nearly zero accountability in place.
Similar to the recent EPIC and ClassWallet misspending, Pastors for Oklahoma Kids along with many other parent and teacher organizations have called for an end to voucher expansion in the state.
While public education funding has increased since 2018, when adjusted for inflation, the funding continues to lag behind pre-2008 recession funding levels.
Pastor Clark Frailey, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Pastors for Oklahoma Kids said, “Now is the time to double down on our investment in accountable and widespread educational choices for families no matter where they live. Children in rural areas should not be punished by reallocating their funding to give private school discounts in metro Tulsa or OKC.
Voters sent an unmistakable message on Primary Election Day: Vouchers are not welcome in Oklahoma!
Now is the time to invest in our public school system which has been a joint project of the state and local communities since 1907. Now is the time to solve the teacher shortage, increase educator salaries, and launch bold new public school choices that benefit all Oklahoma families, not just a select few.”
Pastors for Oklahoma Kids is a non-denominational coalition of clergy from across the state of Oklahoma that advocates for local schools, principals, teachers, staff, and schoolchildren by supporting our free, public education system, to promote education justice for children. Pastors for Oklahoma Kids works to advance legislation that enriches Oklahoma children, families, and communities.