This Is Too Much Fun


San Diego Mission

This Is Too Much Fun

Been enjoying visits with family on the west coast and then in the great middle of this land made for you and me the last couple of weeks so haven’t taken the time to post again.  However seems fitting to compose one on July 4 in celebration of the liberties our founders aspired to 240 years earlier—especially the freedom of speech.  It didn’t take long to notice a couple of jewels posted on the OCPA site, one by Greg Forster:  The Oklahoma Blob Votes Itself Largesse; and another by Brandon Dutcher:  Oklahoma’s Budget Hole Could Be Much Deeper.  I’ve only skimmed these but here’s three thoughts:

  1. I refer to OCPA in my first blog post as “limited thinkers” and provide a definition.  Any hesitation that I had that using such a term would diminish my commentary about OCPA’s publications was relieved when I read Forster’s clever use of “Blob” to describe the thousands of Oklahoma schoolteachers, custodians, bus drivers, teacher assistants and building administrators who daily care for Oklahoma’s children.  Really Mr. Forster, is the power of your analysis and soundness of your policy proposals so weak you have to resort to name calling in the title?
  2. I’m likely misinformed but I thought OCPA is supposed to be a “think tank”, a source not only of policy proposals but also sound information upon which policy makers can rely. Dutcher cites the number $10,000 per student as the amount the state spends, yet Forster cites $8,813.  Come on OCPA, that’s a big difference, over $750 million.  Can’t you sit down for a discussion over coffee and come up with a consistent OCPA number?  When you do then I’ll take the time to fact check it.  Just remember not to double count, like including expenditures for both the sinking and bond funds; and if you are comparing to private schools be sure you are consistent about what parents pay for school lunches and student activities are apples to apples.  Even more fun will be checking how you account for the costs mandated for serving special education students—the ones private schools don’t/won’t take.
  3. Really humorous is Dutcher using Shawn Hime of the OSSBA (and part of the Blob Forster would say) as a source for how many students are educated in Oklahoma outside of the public school system. Again if OCPA is a think tank, a place where supposedly smart people are paid money to provide information upon which policy makers can rely, then do your own work Dutcher—why rely on the Blob?  I suspect Dutcher thinks it’s clever to use an artificially high number because it enhances his claim that if Oklahoma had to educate all those students outside the system then that would be an even greater cost.

For policy makers though this is an important number to know.  In conversation with a state representative who authored voucher legislation this last session, I asked how many students are educated outside the public system and was quite surprised to learn he didn’t have a number.  It doesn’t take much analysis, though apparently beyond what the OCPA has done, to understand that any voucher funding proposal will eventually backfill to the pipeline of families already electing private schools for their students.  Policy makers need to know what the current private school enrollment is so this additional cost can at least be part of the discussion.

Here’s my quick and dirty shot at a number:

This is where I found U S Census estimate for Oklahoma’s population as of July 1, 2014 by age which is most recent year apparent.  I totaled the numbers for age cohorts 5 through 17 the 13 years for which school is mandatory and that number is 687,225.

Then here is the grade cohort enrollments for Oklahoma’s public schools first quarter FY 2015:

The total is 683,815 rounded.  Then back out the pre-school counts which are not mandatory, i.e. ages 3 & 4, leaves enrollment ages 5 through 17 at 642,619 which is three months after the Census estimate.   That leaves approximately 44,000 to 45,000 children not enrolled in Oklahoma’s public school system.  I bet that is closer to the actual private school enrollment of ages 5 – 17 than OCPA’s number of 100,000.


**Photo ID’d by Tresa Snow**