Brandon Dutcher & Curtis Shelton | March 11, 2022

Is the status quo working?

Brandon Dutcher & Curtis Shelton

According to a 2019 survey conducted by WPA Intelligence, only a third of Oklahoma voters say Oklahoma’s public education system is providing a good return on investment. After the prolonged school shutdowns and the attendant damage to many children’s educational progress, mental health, and emotional well-being, one suspects that percentage is even lower today.

As the chart below shows, government spending on education continues to rise.

Despite all this government spending, academic performance remains stuck at unacceptably low levels. You can see the statewide and district-specific performance data here. In the table below, we highlight a dozen local districts (a mix of urban, suburban, and rural). Parents and taxpayers need to look at the status quo and ask themselves: Is this acceptable?

School DistrictPer-Pupil SpendingSuperintendent Compensation% Proficient or Better in English/Language Arts% Proficient or Better in Math% Proficient or Better in Science

State Legislators

Atoka$11,625$202,50224%19%29%Type your address here
Clinton$11,378$152,64819%16%33%Type your address here
Copan$11,545$116,5605%7%10%Type your address here
Deer Creek$8,139$202,94443%41%48%Type your address here
Durant$9,927$222,03037%30%37%Type your address here
El Reno$10,438$163,08813%10%14%Type your address here
Midwest City-Del City$11,158$192,99415%8%18%Type your address here
Oklahoma City$13,107$402,9859%0%11%Type your address here
Sulphur$9,551$154,39927%30%38%Type your address here
Tulsa$11,802$377,67510%6%13%Type your address here
Union$10,628$316,82516%20%19%Type your address here
Yukon$9,545$263,76032%30%34%Type your address here

“Oklahomans elected the wrong person if they want me to sit here and be status quo with the system that hasn’t worked,” Gov. Kevin Stitt told a group of Enid community leaders this week. “It works in pockets … but there’s a lot of schools that need something, and the best way to do that is to give your parents choice and options in our education system.”

In a state where the average private-school tuition is $6,577 for elementary schools and $7,535 for high schools, an Oklahoma Empowerment Account would empower a lot of parents with choice and options.

Brandon Dutcher Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher

Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine,,, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.

Curtis Shelton Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton

Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.

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