Monday, October 5, 2015


I was asked to post this op/ed from almost eleven years ago.  Here it is!  Enjoy!
In February 2005, I wrote the following article for THE DUNCAN BANNER. After it appeared, State Auditor Jeff McMahan wrote a full page response that appeared in a Sunday edition. In his rebuttal, he falsely claimed he didn't know Steve Phipps, EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS VIDEO TAPE EVIDENCE. He has since said that he did know him and took campaign contributions from him. Jeff said I was the mouthpiece for the State GOP. He was right about the MOUTHPIECE part, but not for the State GOP. By special request, here is the infamous BIG DADDY article. Enjoy!
Is Big Daddy McMahan’s Sugar Daddy?

In the 1970s, a popular television show was The Dukes of Hazard. In every episode, Bo and Luke Duke battled the local political boss- appropriately named Boss Hogg. It was not your classic case of good vs. evil, because sometimes the Duke boys bent the law a little to suit their taste, but fundamentally they were the good guys. Boss Hogg had his dirty work done by Roscoe the dim-witted sheriff and Cletus, the Deputy. Roscoe never worried about re-election so long as the Boss was happy. The Boss reigned sovereign in Hazard County! It was good entertainment because we knew that in every episode, the Dukes would win out over Boss Hogg. It wasn’t set in Oklahoma because in the Sooner state unfortunately, the good guys don’t always win.

For decades when one thought of sleazy, backroom politics in Oklahoma, Gene Stipe instantly came to mind. Stipe was at one time the longest serving elected official in America. Serving over 50 years in the Oklahoma state legislature, he was the poster boy for term limits. During his reign, Stipe abused his office as State Senator by using his power to build what can only be described as an empire in Southeast Oklahoma. Senator Stipe was so notorious that he earned the nickname “The Prince of Darkness”- a real-life Boss Hogg.

It seems the Prince has left his mark on many associates and partners that will perpetuate the Good Ole Boy network for decades to come in Oklahoma. Stipe followers have watched their idol rule over the State in a way that only a mafia boss could appreciate. The good Senator manipulated and abused the system so effectively that his personal wealth is estimated to be over 26 million dollars.

Many Oklahomans were hopeful that the day of Good Ole Boy politics in Oklahoma had come to an end when Stipe was forced to resign in shame. He pled guilty of violating federal campaign laws by illegally funneling $50,000 into Walt Roberts failed Congressional campaign, but it appears he hasn’t learned his lesson yet.

Now, one of Stipe’s minions, Steve Phipps along with the former Senator are being investigated for what appears to be a scam to open a dog food plant in McAlester. The plant, which was financed by state and city tax dollars, has not produced a single can or bag of dog food. It has not created the 25 jobs that were promised. However: the facility has been utilized to service Indian gaming machines. Phipps owns a business that provides that service to the tribes and he evidently, is using the facility to work on one arm bandits, but not to make pet food.

Who is Steve Phipps? His nickname is “Big Daddy.” It seems that the dog food factory isn’t the only connection Big Daddy has to the Prince. Phipps and Stipe are partners in abstract companies across Southeast Oklahoma. Anyone selling or refinancing property in Oklahoma are required to have titles brought up to date within a 90 day period. Abstract companies are the only place to get that done in the state. In many counties, Phipps and Stipe own the only abstract office in town. To add insult to injury, abstractors set their own rates. What an industry-to have customers that have to do business with you- on your terms- at your price?

One has to ask how such a system could be allowed to exist in Oklahoma? Who is responsible for watching the abstractors? That responsibility falls to the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector. The author of the bill that gave the Auditor’s office that job? That’s right- Senator Gene Stipe.

The Bellamy Brothers sang, What you need is a Sugar Daddy. It looks like Jeff McMahan has found one- maybe two. Now we learn that Big Daddy, The Prince and many of their employees and associates contributed to the 2002 campaign war chest of State Auditor Jeff McMahan. When asked about the contributions McMahan stated that he would take any “legal campaign contribution.” He went on to say that anyone contributing to him was doing so because they “believed in good government.” The average Oklahoma taxpayer’s idea of good government and Phipps’ and Stipe’s idea might be a much different. To accept campaign contributions from any and everyone shows a serious lack of judgment on McMahan’s part.

Who says that contributing to campaigns doesn’t pay dividends? It has paid excellent dividends for Phipps and Stipe. McMahan has refused to audit the Private Economic Authority that gave the money to Phipps to build the phantom pet food plant. The land the authority gave to Phipps was purchased from Gene Stipe at more than 2 ½ times the assessed value. This whole multi-pronged transaction doesn’t pass the “smell” test.
And when Steve Phipps-aka- Big Daddy- feels the need to meet with someone at the State Capital to try to get laws passed, who does he call?. He calls his good buddy Jeff McMahan. Evidently, Steve Phipps has used the State Auditor’s office to meet with legislators and others on numerous occasions while trying to influence legislation. He may have gotten some wording inserted into a bill that gave him a competitive advantage to produce Indian Gaming machines. As private citizens and taxpayers, we may not be able to do much about Stipe and Phipps and their shady dealings. That will be left to the investigators and prosecutors, but McMahan is another matter. His ties to Stipe and Phipps are troubling. We need to change our image in Oklahoma. McMahan is up for re-election in 2006 and we need to McFIRE him.


Weekly Opinion Editorial
Second Amendment under Attack
by Steve Fair

     If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns!  No one knows who said that for sure, but those words have been printed on billboards, bumper stickers, and t-shirts for decades.  The point the quote makes is that criminals ignore the law anyway and the only person that is harmed by disarming the public is the law abiding citizen who will turn in his gun.  In the old west, when the local sheriff would confiscate weapons, invariably some ne’re do well would ignore the law and refuse to give up his gun.  Violence would break out and because the criminal was the only one with a gun, it was like shooting fish in a barrel- the law abiding citizen had no way to fight back.
     Once again in America the debate over guns is being waged after another depraved lunatic shot up a small college in Oregon.  It was a ‘gun free’ zone, yet somehow there was a gun.  How does that happen? See above.  Immediately the liberals said the only logical answer is to take guns away from every American because guns kill people, but they forget that knives kill people and so do fists and feet and rocks and baseball bats.  Yet no one is calling for outlawing any of those items.  By the way, five times more people are killed with knives than with guns in this country. 
     This week, the White House confirmed that President Obama was preparing a series of ‘executive orders’ on gun control to match his recent outrage after the shooting in Oregon.   “It’s a high priority and will continue to be until we start to see more progress on this issue in this town,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday.  Earnest pointedly criticized the “gun show loophole” for allowing criminals and people with mental problems to buy weapons.  He blamed organizations like the National Rifle Association for blocking action in Congress on the issue.
     After the latest mass shooting, the President said,  “We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings.  Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours.  So we know there are ways to prevent it.” What Obama didn’t say was that Australia’s ‘solution’ to stop mass shooting was confiscation of guns.  After an attack in 1996 in a tourist area where 35 people were killed and 23 wounded, the Australian government confiscated 650,000 guns via a ‘mandatory gun buyback’ program.  They forced gun owners to hand their firearms over for destruction.  Unfortunately, the Aussies didn’t have this pesky little item in their constitution known as the right to bear arms.  Did the confiscation of weapons work?  Did Australia’s plan reduce firearm homicides?
     University of Melbourne researchers Wang-Sheng Lee and Sandy Suardi concluded in a 2008 report on the matter with the statement, “There is little evidence to suggest that [the Australian mandatory gun-buyback program] had any significant effects on firearm homicides.”
     Throughout American’s history, there have been enemies of the second amendment.  The very first gun laws were enacted in Virginia in 1640.  The laws were specifically targeted toward blacks.  It provided that blacks, even freemen, could not own guns. Everyone has heard of Dred Scott vs. Sandford, the landmark decision by the SCOTUS back in 1857 that ruled that blacks could not be citizens of the U.S.  What most don’t know is that gun ownership was a part of the debate.  Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote that blacks could not be citizens because if they were citizens, they would have the right to own guns: "Giving them citizenship would give them the full liberty," he said, "to keep and carry arms wherever they went,"  Taney wrote.   
     What happened in Oregon (and other places) is tragic, but banning guns would not prevent such tragedies.  It will only prevent law abiding citizens from owning a weapon to defend themselves.  As another famous quote goes, “Guns don’t kill people- people kill people.”  Sin is in the heart before it’s in the hand.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

    In 1998, OU and OSU economists produced a report on a number of factors that needed improvement if Oklahoma were to become more prosperous.  Passage of right-to-work, lower workers comp rates, and tort reform topped the economic factors, but chief among the social issues was lowering the rates of divorce, out-of-wedlock births and child abuse. Oklahoma has a high rate of divorce; 13.5% of Oklahomans have been divorced.  This is the highest rate in the 5 state region.  In comparison, only 10.8% of Texans have been divorced.     
     Former Governor Frank Keating persuaded the legislature to establish a government/private sector partnership entitled the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative to work at lowing the state’s high divorce rate.  More than 80% of the funding for the marriage initiative was to come from the state's pool of federal welfare funds- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Keating’s stated goal was to reduce the rate of divorce in Oklahoma by one third over the next decade.  Keating believed that counseling, training, and mentoring young families would not only help that family directly, but ultimately also save the state money.
     It is a well-known fact that unstable families and divorce cost taxpayers.  According to a 2008 Institute for American Values study, increasing family stability by even 1 percent can result in $43 million of savings for Oklahoma state government.
     The OMI long ago abandoned the goal of reducing the divorce rate by a third in a decade.  Since the OMI was established Oklahoma’s divorce rate has increased from 11.6% to 13.5%.  Oklahoma’s increase in the rate of divorce has mirrored the country. Most conservative states have higher rates of divorce than liberal states because most Red states are more religious and young people are taught to marry and not just live together.  "In Oklahoma our divorce rate is high, that's the truth," said Marriage Initiative Director Kendy Cox, "here in Oklahoma we believe in the institution of marriage. We chose to get married; we just don't know how to navigate our marriages."
     Since its inception, the OMI has trained over 4,000 volunteers, touching over 400,000 Oklahomans with its training and education.  It continues to have strong support in the state legislature.  Former Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon authored a bill that used some of the discretionary federal welfare monies to pay for public-service announcements promoting the benefits of marriage.  Those PSAs started running earlier this year. Moving forward, one of the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative’s new endeavors is to help couples who are already in crisis, rather than solely focusing on prevention. “We have been so focused on prevention throughout the years, that we have not thought enough about the specific needs of couples in crisis,” Cox said.  It is clear the OMI has not been able to reduce the divorce rate, so can government save marriages?  Is it the government’s job to save marriages? 
     The short answer is no on both counts!  Government didn’t institute marriage- God did.  Marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman.  According to Andreas Kostenberger, that means a couple must understand and commit themselves to five things in their marriage:  (1) The permanence of marriage, (2) the sacredness of marriage, (3) the intimacy of marriage, (4) the mutuality of marriage, and (5) the exclusiveness of marriage.  “A covenant marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman, instituted by and publically entered into before God,” Kostenberger says.
     Economically it makes sense for government to try and keep families intact and stable, but no seminar or counseling session will produce the needed result of an exchanged life.  That can only come from a regenerated heart.
     The federal government has been at war against biblical marriage for years.  From tax penalties for married couples to the recent recognition of same-sex marriage, it is abundantly clear the feds could care less about traditional marriage.  Government, at any level, can’t save marriages with secular solutions for a divine institution.  

Monday, September 21, 2015


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     State Representative Randy McDaniel, (R-Edmond), is Chairman of the House Business, Labor and Retirement Laws Committee.  He is proposing a plan that he says would help reduce the statewide teacher shortage.  McDaniel wants to increase the amount a teacher who retires from the public school system can earn from an Oklahoma school district to $18,000- up $3,000 from current law.  In Texas, retired teachers have to wait a year before they can be rehired by a public school, but there is no limit on what they can earn after that year.  In Arkansas, a retiree can work at school and earn up to $27,120 annually. 
     McDaniel’s proposal would require school districts who hire retirees to pay more to the Teachers Retirement System for that hire.  The teacher shortage is real and McDaniel’s proposal to increase the amount a retired educator can earn and not affect their retirement is a good step.  Like every state except Pennsylvania, Oklahoma faces a significant teacher shortage,” McDaniel says. “Demographics are impacting the situation causing record numbers of the most experienced teachers to retire. We want to provide an additional incentive for valued teachers to stay in the classroom, but the plan must also be affordable.”  Let’s examine what is fueling the teacher shortage nationally.
     First, baby boomer aged teachers are hitting retirement age.  It is simple demographics. Teachers born between 1946 and 1964 are entering retirement years. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future found that half of today’s teachers—1.72 million—could retire during the next 10 years.  The retiring baby boomer generation represents a challenge to any profession, and education is no exception.    
     Second, many teachers simply abandon the profession.  According to James Rowley, an education professor at the University of Dayton, nearly one half of educators leave teaching within their first five years. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t about money.  A 2012 study conducted by The Heritage Foundation found that workers who switched from private employment to teaching most often took an hourly pay increase, whereas most of those who left teaching for the private sector took pay decreases. The Manhattan Institute looked at the hourly pay of public-school teachers in the top 66 metropolitan areas in the country and found that teachers made on average $34.06 per hour.  Journalists earned 24 percent less, Architects, 11 percent less, Psychologists, 9 percent less, Chemists, 5 percent less, so money isn’t the issue.  Teaching is hawked as a ‘rewarding’ profession, but times have changed.  A 2013 poll found that teacher satisfaction has declined by 23% in just 5 years.  Only 39% of teachers polled were very satisfied with their job.  51% of teachers reported being stressed several days a week in their job.  Rowley says new teachers should have mentors and that will help retain teachers.  Teaching is a very complex profession. It’s full of all kinds of subtleties and nuances. It’s something you learn on the job,” Rowley says. “If we’re going to be learning on the job, we know it’s important to have someone guide and direct us.”
     Third, federal government mandates have made teaching more about tests and less about education.  That contributes to those leaving teaching either to another profession or retirement.  And it’s not going to get better.  NPR(yes I know they are liberal) reported that California has seen a 74% decline in teacher program enrollments in their state universities in just the past decade. NPR also found the decreased enrollment wasn’t about money.  Students shunning teaching said it was about Common Core, high stakes testing, and evaluation of teachers by test scores.  Students considering education as a profession wanted to teach, not fill out paperwork.
     Fourth, the breakdown of the American family has made teaching difficult.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 40% of babies born in the US are now born to unmarried women.  According to the Pew Research Center, 46% of US kids under 18 are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.  Compare that to 73% in 1960 and 61% in 1980.   Today’s teachers are expected to deal with issues that arise when students are affected by divorce and their parent going to prison.  The world is more complicated for today’s kids and teachers are often the ones they turn to in times of crisis. 
     Teachers impact our lives.  As the husband of a retired teacher, I can attest that Andy Rooney was right when he said, “Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us, but teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.”

Monday, September 14, 2015


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     Thursday is Constitution Day or Citizenship Day.  It recognizes the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens either by birth or by naturalization. 
     The U.S. Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787 by thirty nine men.  Signers include George Washington, James Madison, Ben Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton.  Franklin, 81, was so feeble that he required help to sign the document.  Tears streamed down his face as he put pen to paper.  Future Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams did not sign the document because they were both out of the country.  Of the fifty-five authorized delegates to the Constitutional Convention, thirty-nine actually signed the Constitution. Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign due in part due to the lack of a bill of rights.  Patrick Henry didn’t attend the convention because in his words: ‘he smelled a rat.’  34 of the delegates were lawyers, 8 had signed the Declaration of Independence and half were Revolutionary War veterans. 
     James Madison was the only delegate to attend every meeting. He took detailed notes of the various discussions and debates that took place during the convention. The journal that he kept during the Constitutional Convention was kept secret until after he died. It (along with other papers) was purchased by the government in 1837 at a price of $30,000 (that would be $654,000 today). The journal was published in 1840.
     The actual writing of the Constitution was done by Jacob Shallus, a Pennsylvania General Assembly clerk.  He was paid the handsome sum of $30 ($789 today).  The text of the Constitution was printed by John Dunlap and David Claypoole in Philadelphia and sent to the various state constitutional conventions for debate and discussion.  The Constitution was ratified by specially elected state conventions beginning in December 1787. The order in which the thirteen states accepted the new constitution was Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island.
     Since 1952, the U.S. Constitution has been on display in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Currently, all four pages are displayed behind protective glass framed with titanium. To preserve the parchment’s quality, the case contains argon gas and is kept at 67 degrees with a relative humidity of 40 percent.
     The U.S. Constitution has 4,400 words. It is the oldest and shortest written Constitution of any major government in the world."  It has 27 amendments, but has only been amended 17 times since the first 10—which make up the Bill of Rights.  When the Constitution was signed, the United States’ population was 4 million. It is now more than 321 million. Philadelphia was the nation’s largest city, with 40,000 inhabitants.  This week the Constitution will celebrate 228 years.  Few documents have guided a people or government for that length of time.  What is the genius of the Constitution and why has it endured so long?
      First, it recognizes that individual rights and liberty do not originate with man, but with a divine Creator.  The founders understood that if a man centered government could grant rights, those rights could just as easily be taken away. 
     Second, the document separates the powers of government by establishing three branches of government with carefully defined powers.  John Adams, the father of the Constitution said, "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many... may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." The founders worried about absolute power corrupting absolutely. 
     Third, the real genius of the Constitution is it can be changed.  Self government allows for the people to demand the document be amended.  John Marshall said, “The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will.”
     The Constitution has served us well and every American should love our founding document.  Unfortunately most Americans have never read it.  In his farewell address to Congress, former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul said:  Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed.  The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people.  The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified.”  The document hasn’t failed.  In a self-governing society, when the founding document is not followed we have only ourselves to blame.  Americans have taken no interest in their government.  The Constitution should and must be followed to the letter- it is the ONLY source of authority that government has and that authority comes from the people.   

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     Yesterday, we celebrated Labor Day.  Founded by the organized labor movement (unions) it recognizes the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well- being of the U.S.  In 1894, Congress passed a law making the first Monday of September a legal holiday and creating a Labor Day holiday.  Labor unions seem to be a thing of the past in the U.S.  Only eleven percent of wage and salary workers belong to them. This is just half the percentage of union members there were in 1983.
     Traditionally a ‘jobs report’ is released on or near Labor Day by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This year’s report shows there are 149 million Americans out of work.  Unemployment in August was at 5.1%, a seven year low, but according to U.S. News and World Report, that number is deceptive.  “The number of unemployed people dropped, but many of these Americans were those who were actively searching for work but  have now dropped out of the job-hunting process,” U.S. News reported.  When someone stops actively searching for a job, they are no longer counted as unemployed. In other words, there are fewer unemployed Americans, but it could just be because many people have given up hope and stopped looking for a job.  Congressman Bernie Sanders, who is a candidate for the Democrat Presidential nomination believes that.  Sanders said, “There is another set of government statistics and that real unemployment if you include those people who have given up looking for work and the millions of others who are working part-time 20, 25 hours a week when they want to work full-time, when you put all of that together, real unemployment is 10.5 percent.”
     Wall Street reacted negatively to the jobs report.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 273 points on the news that the economy created just 173,000 jobs last month when it was anticipated there would be 218,000 created.  Wall Street believes the jobs report will trigger an interest rate increase by the Fed next month which would slow the economy down.
     An interesting development revealed by the report is that Millennials (18-34 year old) are now over one third of the American workforce, beating out Generation X (35-50 year old) by a slim margin. 
     The Obama administration will point to the unemployment rate and crow that it is down to the lowest level since the President took office, but as mentioned above the reason may be people giving up hope.  Consider these statistics:
     A record 46.3 million Americans are receiving food stamps.  That is nearly 50% more recipients than when the President took office.  The rate of home ownership has slipped to its lowest point in more than 20 years.  Only 64% of Americans own their own homes.  That is the lowest percentage since 1994 and down 3.5% since President Obama took office.  The national debt has nearly doubled under this president.  It is over $18 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of $7.4 trillion since 2009, when the president took office.  Just the ‘increase’ is $65,443 per household!  Rest assured, the president didn’t do this by himself.  He had help from Congress, whose unwillingness to make some tough decisions have put America on the path to bankruptcy. 
     Last week during a stop in Duncan, U.S. Senator James Lankford said, “Washington DC(Congress) is a mirror of our society.  If we don’t like what we see, we need to change it.  The key to changing America is for us to have strong families.  I would encourage you to mentor a young family and to encourage young families.  They are the future of America.”  Lankford is absolutely right.  When an avowed socialist (Sanders) can fill stadiums with his message of wealth redistribution, it is apparent that today’s America is much different than what it was just twenty years ago.  Can we ever go back?  While the good ole days weren’t always good, they did give some hope for hard workers to better themselves.  The only way we improve our current situation is for Americans need to take equity in this self-governing experiment called a democratic republic.  Citizens need to pay attention to what is going on in their government and get involved.  How do you do that?  Show up at city council meetings, go to school board meetings, attend your county GOP meetings, research the issues, visit with your elected representatives.  In short, simply show up!  The world is ruled by those who show up!

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     America and Oklahoma has a teacher shortage.  It is really not surprising since the teaching profession is notorious for paying poor wages.  Last week, the Oklahoma State Board of Education issued 503 emergency certifications for teachers.  The applicants all have a Bachelor’s degree, but lack the teaching block traditional teachers have taken.  Recently the Oklahoma State School Board Association surveyed 75% of the state school districts and found that over 1,000 teaching jobs are still open across the state because school districts are unable to find qualified applicants.  75% of the schools surveyed said finding good applicants is more difficult this year than last.  They also found that 2/3 of the districts have asked for emergency teaching certifications to fill vacancies.  Half of the districts said they would have to increase class size because of the shortage.  Shawn Hime, the executive director of the school board association, believes the solution to the shortage is more money for education.  Hime said,  “Saying we don’t have the money for teacher pay raises is no longer an acceptable excuse. Schools are doing the best they can under the circumstances, but we have to ask ourselves: Are we really OK with 5- and 6-year-olds who will go without a teacher trained to develop young readers? Are we really OK with eliminating high-level science classes because we refuse to pay teachers a competitive wage?”  So is money the answer?  Well it hasn’t been. 
     Oklahoma has over 400,000 illiterate citizens- products of the public school system- walking among us.  The legislature allocates Oklahoma education $8,804 per student.  That number doesn’t include a number of other funding sources common education has (local property tax, Land Office) which bumps the total funding per student to $12,481.   A survey by Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs showed that private schools in the state are educating their students at a rate between $4,500-$6,900 annually.  Quite a difference!  If the private sector can educate a child for half the money of public education, where is all the money going?  It’s going to buildings and administrators (principals, superintendents).   Over half the money allocated for education in Oklahoma goes to non-classroom related activity.  No doubt classroom teachers need a raise, but every time they get a raise, their bosses get a bigger raise.  It is the same old broken record with the education establishment; give us more money and we will do a better job educating our kids.  It is true that more and better CLASSROOM teachers IS the answer, but here are a couple of other ideas of how to fix the teacher shortage:
     First, we should be tapping unused resources like our retirees.  We have many degreed retirees in Oklahoma who just might be interested in teaching part time in their local school district.  Currently Oklahoma colleges and universities allow citizens 65 or over to ‘audit’ college classes for free, but no college credit is granted.  The legislature should consider granting free college tuition, not just for auditing, but for credit toward a teaching certificate for Oklahoma seniors.  This is not a new concept. In Missouri and Arkansas tuition is free and credit toward a degree is given.  In New Mexico, seniors pay a measly $5 per credit hour.   In Louisiana, citizens 55 or over get free tuition and half off their books at state colleges.  Alabama offers free tuition for junior college. According to U.S. News and World Report: “Approximately 60 percent of accredited degree-granting educational institutions in America offer tuition waivers for older adults. But surprisingly, fewer than 50 students at each school that runs such a program utilized it in 2006. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for example, currently has 21 seniors enrolled in its tuition waiver program, and 30 participated in the University of Virginia's program over the past two semesters.”  But if Oklahoma school districts recruited seniors in their area and encouraged them to go back and get certification, participation would likely be higher. 41 states have some college tuition program for seniors.  Go to for more information. 
     Second, Oklahoma education leaders need to start thinking outside the box.  Online education is exploding across the globe, yet few secondary schools offer it.  It is time for the education lobby to stop playing the same old broken record asking for more money.  Last year was a down budget year for Oklahoma government and every state agency took a cut, BUT common education.  Funding was increased by $105 million.  Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, (R-Sapulpa), “Education got the single largest funding increase for any sector of state government, while other agencies had their budgets reduced. This year, education was held harmless, despite a budget shortfall in excess of $600 million. The four years prior to the shortfall saw steady increases in funding for schools.”