| April 2, 2012

State could save millions by reducing duplicative teacher preparation

Following is an excerpt from OCPA’s Proposed State Budget for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2013.

With Oklahoma government spending at an all-time high (see chart), the time has come to set priorities and to exercise spending discipline.

The Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation (OCTP) should no longer receive a state appropriation. According to its website, the OCTP’s mission is “to develop, implement, and facilitate competency-based teacher preparation, candidate assessment, and professional development systems.” Since its creation, taxpayers have provided appropriations of more than $29 million to the OCTP, including the $1,526,179 appropriated to the agency for FY 2012. Despite poor results, total state spending on education has grown from $3.53 billion in FY 2005 to $4.57 billion in FY 2011—an increase of 29.4 percent in six years. Excluding funds for OCTP, taxpayers already spend billions of dollars on other state agencies, such as the state Department of Education, CareerTech, state aid for common education, OETA, and more than a billion taxpayer dollars for subsidized colleges and universities. These government entities should already “implement and facilitate competency-based teacher preparation, candidate assessment, and professional development systems”—particularly the institutions granting bachelor’s and higher degrees. Oklahoma taxpayers should not be required to pay for this twice.

Teachers are professionals. Once they enter the workforce, they, like many other professionals, are providing a service particular to their employer and local community. Locally benefiting employers, communities, and teachers should bear the costs for any licensing, credentialing, and additional training or development—just as is the case with many other professions that do not receive taxpayer funds. The OCTP is a duplicative function of government, given that teachers are graduates of heavily taxpayer-subsidized public colleges and universities (or private universities that receive taxpayer-subsidized grants and federally subsidized student loans). Since most teachers are required to have bachelor’s or higher-level degrees, their degree program has or should have already prepared them. Any additional preparation needed is a specific benefit to local districts and should be funded locally if deemed a priority.

The potential savings from implementing such reforms could be more than $1.5 million annually.

Submitted each year by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Inc. to the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma and their elected Officials, the OCPA “Budget Book” is carefully crafted by Fiscal Policy Director Jonathan Small to help lawmakers set priorities and exercise spending discipline while creating a state budget that respects your family budget. Offering unmatched fiscal policy analysis and recommendations, Small draws on his experiences as a former budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, former fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and former director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department to provide perspective on the state budget that you cannot find anywhere else.

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