PUBLIC EDUCATION FINANCE in Oklahoma is a confusing and contentious issue. A great many myths also swirl around the pertinent issues. School finance's complexity makes it easy for opponents of education reform proposals to claim that there are unintended consequences that do not actually exist. Therefore, better understanding of school finance is necessary for progress in education reform.
"Straight Talk on Public Education" by Byron Schlomach includes a number of finance and performance-related statistics, mainly from Oklahoma but also placed in a national and international context, as well as a short history of public education in the United States. In addition, the paper reviews the current state of public education in the United States and seeks to dispel several myths that have arisen regarding public education. Summary, Part 1 and Summary, Part 2.
"Making Oklahoma's School Funding More Rational: Simplifying the WADM Calculation" by Byron Schlomach and Vance H. Fried suggests simplifying the calculation of weighted student counts for school funding purposes by restructuring how different student age groups are counted, eliminating several weight categories, including those for gifted and economically disadvantaged students as well as those for small school and teacher longevity. Stricter enforcement of the bilingual and special education counts are suggested as well.
"Public Education Spending In a Historical Context" by Byron Schlomach shows that since 1920, inflation-adjusted per-student spending in public education nationally has increased by a factor of 16 times, the pupil/teacher ratio has halved, and inflation-adjusted teacher pay has increased by a factor of 5 times. Oklahoma exhibits a similar pattern.
"Saving Money: School District Consolidation vs. Breaking Up Big Districts" by Byron Schlomach demonstrates that it is far more realistic to believe that dividing large Oklahoma school districts into smaller ones will save substantial amounts of money than will school district consolidation. For data in Excel format, click here.
"A Primer for Understanding Oklahoma's School Funding System" by Byron Schlomach describes Oklahoma's common school formula funding in detail, providing many insights. In addition, an overview of the state's public education funding is provided. Summary
ERRATA: Three dollar figures on page 24 have been corrected from the previous version as of 1/04/17.