Since statehood, Oklahomans have valued public education. It’s a written priority in our state’s governing documents. The authors of our constitution saw a strong education system as the cornerstone of a prosperous state.
All Oklahomans, no matter where they live or how much money they have, should have equal access to a quality education. We envision an Oklahoma where every school is properly funded, every teacher is supported, and every child has a chance at success.
The reality is that lawmakers aren’t fulfilling their obligations. Budgets that don’t meet the needs of schools hurt our kids the most. Because we’ve asked schools to do more with less money over time, we have fewer teachers, larger class sizes, and too many students falling through the cracks especially those in low-income and predominantly minority schools. Textbooks are out of date and falling apart. Our kids don’t have enough support staff like librarians and school counselors. Some school districts have even shortened the school week from five to four days to save money.
Investments in education are investments into Oklahoma’s economic future. A strong education system means better jobs and higher pay. Let’s stay true to our values by funding and supporting our schools so that all our children can succeed and our communities can grow and thrive.
The Oklahoma standard means that we will help lift each other up in times of need. We have stood together after natural disasters and tragedies because we know that when our people are strong, then our communities are strong. It’s time that we apply those same Oklahoma values to our safety net programs that help us all thrive.
Fulfilling the Oklahoma Standard means making sure that all Oklahomans can access a good job with livable wages, a safe place to sleep, enough food to eat, and the means to stay healthy. Unfortunately, too many Oklahomans — especially among young families with children — don’t have these basic necessities.
We can do better. Strengthening the health care and social safety net for all Oklahomans will make sure that our families, our neighbors, and ourselves will not only have what we need to get by — we’ll the stable foundation to work hard and achieve our dreams.
We envision an Oklahoma with safe communities, where everyone is protected and everyone’s needs are met. That means building a criminal justice system that works. Our state’s constitution requires us to provide for the security and benefit of the people, but we’re not there yet.
Our criminal justice system is broken. We lock up more people than any other place in the world. It’s not making us safer. Rather than treating people with mental illnesses or substance abuse problems, we put them in jail cells. When we release people from prison, we don’t give them support. We put them back into the same places because we have done nothing to fix the root of the problem. This constant cycle is a drain on law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and our taxpayer resources. The prison population in Oklahoma has swelled to the point that we do not have the staff or facilities to house them.
It is nationally recognized that our criminal justice system is not working and it’s time for a new approach. We should make it easier for people to access treatment for substance abuse and mental illness. We should lower the burden of legal fines and fees for those working to rebuild their lives after prison and remove barriers that keep them from finding jobs. It’s time to implement solutions that actually work, not continue our failed punitive approach to criminal justice.