The Oklahoma Education Association’s national parent, the National Education Association, is known for bizarre actions like working to give boys access to girls’ bathrooms and endorsing Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Recently the OEA added to the bizarre by trying to give the impression that public schools are receiving only half of Oklahoma’s education-related federal COVID funding. Any suggestion to that effect is patently false.
Oklahoma received $360 million in federal funding to cover the costs of the education response to COVID-19. Of that $360 million, $160.9 million went to the state’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which pays for COVID-related expenses at public schools, and $39.8 million went to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which pays for a host of initiatives. The remainder primarily went to colleges.
The governor’s ‘Stay in School’ initiative will allow some low-income children from high-risk populations whose public-school options are failing them to instead attend private schools. It received $10 million. Ten million is not 50 percent of $360 million. Ten million is not half of $160.9 million. Ten million is not half of $39.8 million. The OEA’s claim has no basis in mathematical reality. For a group that claims to represent teachers to imply or suggest that 10 is half of 39.8, half of 160.9 or half of 360 is not a sign they should be taken seriously in education policy discussions. It’s a sign they need to go back to school.
Even if you throw in the $8 million going to the governor’s ‘Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet’ initiative—which is available to all students, not just those in private school—you still don’t hit 50 percent of available funding under any calculation.
Most of the children who will benefit from the governor’s ‘Stay in School’ initiative fall into three categories: homeless children, teens recovering from addiction, and low-income, mostly minority families. Without the governor’s initiative, many of those children would be denied life-changing services and/or forced to go to some of the state’s worst schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The dirty secret is that most members of OEA and the union’s leadership team will not send their own children to these public schools that are failing the most vulnerable, yet they have no problem condemning Oklahoma’s most needy families to those systems, setting those children on a lifetime path of limited opportunity and economic deprivation.”
The “Stay in School” initiative will provide funds to low-income families who have suffered a COVID-19-related job loss or a demonstrated economic impact due to COVID-19-related factors. More than 1,500 Oklahoma families will be able to access $6,500 apiece. Families can begin applying for the funds on August 1. More information about the program will be announced soon at opsac.org.