Higher Education

Brandon Dutcher | December 5, 2014

‘Throwing money at a system that’s not working’

Brandon Dutcher

Former Gov. Frank Keating (a Republican) and former state treasurer Scott Meacham (a Democrat) took to the pages of The Oklahoman this week to sound the alarm about Oklahoma’s very serious educational-performance problems. “It appears policymakers, the education establishment, and even a vocal minority of parents in Oklahoma are in a state of denial when it comes to what’s happening,” they wrote.

Keating and Meacham outlined some practical, structural fixes. “Once these structural problems are addressed, only then should we have a serious discussion about increasing funding,” they added. “Oklahoma remains near the bottom in the nation on per-pupil expenditures for education. Clearly, we can’t underfund our way to excellence. But throwing money at a system that’s not working won’t change anything.”

They’re right. We know from federal data, for example, that only half of the money we’re throwing at the system is going to instruction. But sometimes it’s not even necessary to mine the spending data. Sometimes a simple thought-experiment is illuminating:


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.

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