Kathy Taylor voices opposition to S.Q. 744

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 21-Oct-2010

Oklahoma’s chief of education strategy and innovation, Kathy Taylor, today (October 21) voiced opposition to State Question 744 saying it is the wrong way to advance education investments. Taylor tackled strategy and innovation at the request of Governor Brad Henry, who also opposed S.Q. 744.

In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, Taylor, who is also the former mayor of Tulsa, said, “I am a strong proponent of a well-funded public education system. However, I am opposed to State Question 744. I am deeply concerned about the impact it will make on other services necessary  for our kids.” said Taylor.  “When over 80% of our kids in the two largest school districts live at or below the poverty level, I can’t support a mandate which could force a reduction in funding of other services kids must have to succeed in life and help our economy grow. “ she added. 

Recently, Taylor led two voluntary opportunities to compete for a share of $4.35 billion in federal funds in the Race to the Top. The competition was intense, and led to significant legislation for Oklahoma schools that Gov. Brad Henry and others contend represent the beginning of true education reform in Oklahoma.

Taylor, who collaborated with both Democrats and Republicans in the “race to the top” process continued, “It is critical to continue our efforts to advance education in the years to come, but I believe S.Q. 744 is the wrong approach. We need to move the state forward in a fashion that unites Oklahoma and does not pit public education against the interests and resources of all other areas of vital state services.”

One of the main concerns of Taylor’s opposition to S.Q. 744 stems from the fact there are no accountability measures or guarantees any of the funds from S.Q. 744 must be spent in the classroom or for teacher pay. “A broad coalition passed House Bill 2033 last session which provides a framework for increasing student success. I plan to make sure my voice is heard at the state capitol next session on funding for that legislation, but S.Q. 744 isn’t the right answer.”

Taylor said she further believes public policy should be advanced in a manner that improves all areas of state government including early childhood, higher education and CareerTech – all of which would suffer if SQ 744 passed.

The One Oklahoma Coalition, the opposition campaign to S.Q. 744, is a non-partisan group including Oklahoma Farm Bureau, The TRUST Road & Bridge Coalition, The Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, the AFL-CIO, International Laborers, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, Tulsa Metro Chamber, The State Chamber, Oklahoma Public Employees Association, American Farmers and Ranchers, Association of General Contractors, Oklahoma Bankers Association, the Oklahoma Hospital Association and dozens of other associations and organizations throughout the state.