Propping up a weak argument 

In the July 7 Oklahoma Gazette, Kurt Hochenauer's Commentary "At what price?" reveals that either he can't do simple math or that he is twisting/spinning budget figures to prop up his weak argument.

Hochenauer used the Oklahoma state budget figure of $16,539 for the Department of Corrections per convicted person annual cost. He said the state spends $7,798 per student in K-12. He then laments about the sorry condition of Oklahoma's public schools. He says if we spent more money on education than on correction, we'd be fine.

Well, maybe, except we spend 3.8 times more on education per hour of care than on corrections.

Let's do the math: $16,539 divided by 365 days divided by 24 hours of care equals $1.89 per hour per person in DOC supervision/custody. $7,798 divided by 180 instructional days divided by 6 hours of school house care equals $7.22 per hour per student in an Oklahoma public school. $7.22 divided by $1.89 equals 3.8.

Now, I'm just a GED holder, not a college professor. Maybe my math skills are lacking.

Math skills aside, to compare how much is spent on education and corrections is like comparing how much is spent on the Legislature's operations and the parks. The two just don't compare. Apples and oranges, don't you know.

In an election year, it'd be nice to have rational and informed public discourse about the big issues, which could give us guidance in making better public policy. For example: There's not enough money in the world to hire a dad and mom for each school kid. The most effective way to improve schools' performance is to encourage/enforce better parenting.

More money spent on education does not equal better educated children. Just look at the big money spent in Los Angeles, Chicago, Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta, Miami, New York City, Washington, D.C., etc. Bigger ed dollars do not equal smarter kids or higher high school graduation rates.

"Richard Hicks
Oklahoma City

Hicks is a retired teacher with active credentials in education.

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