The Oklahoma State House of Representatives voted Tuesday on a bill to create a revolving fund in the State Treasury for the State Board of Education. This should have been good news for the state currently ranked 48th in the country for education, but since it’s still Oklahoma, let’s not get too excited.
By a vote of 64 to 12, representatives voted to pass House Bill 2797, creatively titled, “Humanity of the Unborn Child Act.” In a fiscal year where Oklahoma is already facing an estimated $1.2 billion shortage to the budget, the House felt their focus would be best spent making sure that all High School Students are educated about the “humanity of a child in utero.”
Authored by Rep. Ann Coody, the bill states:
“The Legislature hereby affirms that it is the public policy of the State of Oklahoma to make a value judgment favoring child birth over abortion.”
Coody said that passage of the bill was the top priority of the organization Oklahomans for Life, as a means of passing official public policy regarding abortion in the state. The language of the bill doesn’t include any provisions for sex education or contraception, which seems like it would be a better starting point to introduce students to the idea of childbirth.
For a moment, let’s pretend that this isn’t an extremely polarizing political issue which students will now be forced to learn about based on one side’s interpretation. We’ll ignore the fact that this is the sort of thing the state government is usually fighting to keep schools away from, so that parents can teach their children how to think based on their families morals or beliefs. What does this say about Oklahoma’s priorities when they pass a bill just so they can claim victory on an issue at the expense of their already underfunded school system?
To get some perspective on just how bad the budget cuts have been for Oklahoma students, staff development would be cut 50 percent this year, with the school lunch program suffering a 30 percent cut.
Recently implemented STEM-focused programs were projected to take a full 100 percent cut. Clearly the focus should be on finding additional funds to help students and educators from sliding further behind the national average, but instead lawmakers are busy pushing political propaganda as education reform.
This is just another bill passed by the legislature which will likely find its way to court so Oklahoman’s can waste their tax dollars deciding if it’s constitutional or not. I guess it’s a good thing they aren’t passing bills to teach math.