POE’s Response to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State Address
As session gets underway, we look forward to continuing our work with Gov. Kevin Stitt and his Administration in finding ways to improve education in Oklahoma. We are encouraged by his State of the State remarks honoring the hardworking teachers and support personnel around the state who continue to serve the children of Oklahoma daily in spite of the severe challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Governor said, “You’re the glue that holds many of our communities together.”
Since the fall, the overwhelming majority of POE members have been working in-person or employed by school districts with an in-person option. This is why our main focus has been on appropriate health safety procedures, special accommodations for at-risk individuals, and the prioritization of teachers and support personnel for the COVID-19 vaccine. We were glad to work with the Governor in advancing school personnel from phase 3 to phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. We were also encouraged today to hear that many more teachers and support personnel will have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine this month if they so choose. We believe providing all school employees the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is a priority.
Gov. Stitt also briefly mentioned two important topics in his address: an open transfer policy for public school students and reforming the school funding formula to correct for the financing of ‘ghost students,’ which are students included in a school’s enrollment count but are not actually enrolled in the school. Both of these topics are complex and have far reaching ramifications for the public education system in our state.
Before speaking directly to the two topics listed above, we plan to speak directly with the Governor’s office to fully understand the proposals. We’ll survey our membership and then offer thoughtful input that truly represents the views of Oklahoma teachers and school personnel. As always, we will faithfully and transparently advocate for the views of our members in a professional manner.
We are truly excited for this Legislative Session. We look forward to working with our state lawmakers and the Stitt Administration to effect positive change in Oklahoma.