Friday, January 10, 2020

New Year’s (and legislative session) resolutions

[Guest post by Jonathan Small]

When it comes to resolutions, one should pursue those that are simple and achievable. That’s true whether you’re talking about personal resolutions or (as I am today) resolutions for public policy goals for Oklahoma. In that spirit, I offer the following.

Lawmakers should raise the cap on Oklahoma’s Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program. Research has shown, repeatedly, that this program saves state funds and increases overall spending on education. It also increases academic opportunities for needy children and puts Oklahoma on the path to a better future by ensuring more students become prepared for work or college.

The Legislature should also advance much-needed union reforms (excluding those serving hazard-duty public-safety employees). First, unions should be required to obtain recertification regularly. The strikes of 2018 demonstrated they have the power of elected officials and the ability to shut down our schools. That kind of power needs regular accountability. Today’s teachers and other education employees should not be bound by a certification vote taken by their grandparents' generation. When a union provides value, recertification is no threat, and when a union doesn’t there’s no reason to limits its members’ options.

Unions should also be required to proactively receive a worker’s permission before union dues can be obtained from teachers and education employees. Also, state and local governments shouldn’t be involved in collecting dues for unions.

To benefit teachers, lawmakers should provide state-funded liability insurance coverage. Many teachers don’t agree with their union’s political stances, but still feel compelled to join because membership includes liability insurance coverage. Teachers who maintain classroom discipline should not have to fear frivolous lawsuits. The state should give them more financial peace of mind.

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