Thursday, December 6, 2018

Oklahoma, school funding, and the meta-perceptions pre-thread (proto thread?)

One of the questions I would love to see some social science researchers dig into is the apparent increase in people not only espousing extreme and even offensive beliefs (particularly on the right), but assuming that these positions are acceptable and in some cases widely held. I don't have enough background to intelligently discuss the topic, but I do (as always) have some theories, some involving social media and social norming, others focused on the conservative movement's media strategy and its sometimes unintended consequences.

Coming out against the very concept of publicly funded education is certainly an extreme position. Oklahoma Republicans basically looked at the Kansas experiment and said "hold my beer" and are now facing the same backlash as the other states that recently tried this combination of supply-side economics and Randian social policy. Opposing increased funding for schools under these conditions is politically risky; opposing funding period would seem to be suicidal, but Lopez and presumably the rest of the county party leadership appear to consider this a mainstream Republican position.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican leadership in one of Oklahoma's most populous counties has sent a letter to the state's lawmakers calling for an end to government-run public schools, or if that is too much, to at least find alternative funding sources for the system besides tax revenue.

Other GOP leaders have rebuked the letter, saying its views are outside the state party's mainstream, while looking toward next year's legislative session, when classroom funding is likely to again be a major focus.

Andrew Lopez, Republican Party chair for suburban Oklahoma City's Canadian County, signed the letter sent last week. It requested that the state no longer manage the public school system, or at least consider consolidating school districts. Public schools should seek operational money from sponsorships, advertising, endowments and tuition fees instead of taxes, the letter says.

The letter itself can't force policy changes, but the swift criticism from fellow Republicans shows continued grappling for power in the state's dominant political party. Education funding played a big role in this year's legislative elections following a spring teacher walkout that closed public schools throughout Oklahoma for two weeks. Several Republican lawmakers who opposed tax increases for teacher salaries were ousted, including some targeted by a key GOP House leader and an out-of-state super PAC.

Oklahoma Republican Party Chair Pam Pollard said Lopez's letter doesn't reflect the party's position.

But Lopez said the GOP lawmakers are betraying party principles, including through increasing the size of government. His letter also called for abolishing abortion and eliminating unnecessary business-licensing agencies.

"In government we have a system that says we believe it's a good idea to take (money) from you by force to educate other people's children," Lopez said. "That doesn't appear to be a fair deal to me."

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