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Education

Governor Stitt is afraid of ghost…students

8:23 AM EST on February 4, 2021

Did you know that national surveys suggest that 45% of Americans believe in ghosts? Well, if you’re a sitting Oklahoma governor, it turns out that the statistic is bumped up to 100%! Grab your crystal ball and salts, my dudes. Earlier this week, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt used his State of the State address to warn us about the dangers of “ghost students.”

Booo!

The term, “Ghost Student” was coined by state investigators when they were looking into whether or not scammy Epic Charter Schools had inflated enrollment count. It is now being used by Stitt to show how misinformed he is about how school funding actually works. Right now, Oklahoma schools’ funding formula is based on the highest enrollment count over the last 3 years. That allows for fluctuation in attendance due to students moving in and out of districts (or even drops in enrollment due to goddang global pandemics) without schools having to worry about losing funding for the next year.

The problem with Stitt’s preference of basing funding on last year’s enrollment numbers alone is that many Oklahoma families have temporarily switched their kids to online charter schools. That means if this new formula were to be implemented for the next school year, many Oklahoma public schools would suffer, while schools with higher enrollment counts, like online charter schools and private schools, would likely have more funding for their students.

What school do Stitt’s kids go to again?

Members of the Oklahoma Education Association have spoken out against the proposed changes in the formula. But as someone who surrounds himself with Yes-Men, and chooses partisan ideological impulses over pragmatic decision making, it's probably difficult to hear, or even care about, teachers’ complaints.

Stitt’s conversation about school funding quickly turned into a rant to send kids back full-time to the schools he wants to defund. I don’t know if our esteemed governor remembers this or not, but we’re kind of in the middle of a goddang global pandemic. If Oklahoma schools already can’t afford to pay enough teachers so they can have smaller class sizes, nurses to care for the kids, or for cleaning supplies, rushing kids back into the classroom full-time may create more ghost students than prevent them.

Booo.

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Hayley is married. Follow her on twitter @squirrellygeek and become a contributing member of TLO here.

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