OEA decries governor’s use of school relief funding

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced late Friday, July 17, 2020, how he would spend the majority of his $40 million of his federal COVID-19 relief dollars earmarked for education: 

– $12 million for digital learning resources for public schools

– $8 million for cash grants to about 5,000 students to use on technology. (For context, Oklahoma public schools serve more than 703,000 students.)

– $10 million for cash giveaways to about 1,500 students to pay for private school tuition. The governor said this will help reduce childhood trauma. 

The governor previous announced he would use $8 million of his special COVID relief funds for competitive grants for Oklahoma public school districts. The grant program was a partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education. 

OEA President Alicia Priest responds:

“Gov. Stitt had $40 million to help support Oklahoma schools, which have been overcoming major challenges to feed, educate, and support children in a time of great fear. In the end, he opted to spend only half of those dollars on public schools.

“The governor is using this crisis as a way to funnel emergency funds that our schools desperately need to new, unproven nonprofits and to private schools, which have zero academic accountability. 

“Public schools serve 91% of students but are receiving 50% of the emergency funding. This is straight out of Betsy DeVos’s playbook. He has taken a stand, and it’s not with Oklahoma’s children.”

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