The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s advocacy efforts are rooted in research about what’s best for Oklahoma’s children and Oklahoma’s future. It’s data-driven because we know numbers matter, but numbers without stories don’t often move people to action.
So over the course of the last year OICA embarked on a project called “Stories Matter” to connect the Kids Count data that’s at the heart of our advocacy efforts, with important stories about real Oklahomans and conversations with stakeholders and decision makers. Through “Stories Matter” we wanted to put a face to those numbers so our leaders, policymakers and fellow advocates know that when we say children in Oklahoma need our help, that our future will suffer if we neglect to invest in kids, that we’re talking about their kids, their grandchildren, their brothers and sisters, their nieces and nephews and our collective future as Oklahomans.
Each of our Stories Matter videos focus on policy issues at the heart of the legislative debates this session.
Oklahoma has decreased per pupil spending by 20.3 percent since 2008, which amounts to a loss of $706 per student placing us at 47th in the nation in education funding. And the timing for this drop in funding couldn’t come at a more inopportune time because over the past several years, lawmakers have passed reforms that are proving costly to implement. While the reforms are aimed at increasing student outcomes, including raising Oklahoma’s high school graduation rates, without proper funding from the Legislature, the impact to student achievement will be minimal. For this reason, this session we’re calling on lawmakers to make a significant investment in public education reforms in order to ensure Oklahoma students are graduating on time.
According to our KIDS COUNT indicators, we’ve recently seen a 13 percent increase in the number of teens not working and not in school and a 5 percent increase in students not graduating on time.
What does this mean for Oklahoma’s future?
The Institute is poised and ready to fight for properly funding education reforms this legislative session.
One in four of our children are living in poverty and in only a year there’s been a more than 100 percent increase in the number of Oklahoma children living in high poverty areas. Education is the ultimate equalizer; it is the way out of poverty for these children. Properly funded public education leads to more educated children and a prosperous future for our state.
Our children are worth the investment. Our future is worth it, too.