‘Oklahoma Tomorrow’ pushing to protect higher education funding

‘Oklahoma Tomorrow’ pushing to protect higher education funding

September 12, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


MARKIE DURING THE 2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION, HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING WAS SLASHED BY MORE THAN $153 MILLION DOLLARS, MAKING COLLEGE DEGREES INACCESSIBLE TO SOME OKLAHOMANS. AND THAT WILL CONTINUE TO BE THE CASE IF THOSE DEEP FISCAL CUTS AREN’T MENDED. IN AN ATTEMPT TO ALLEVIATE THE PROBLEM, AN ADVOCACY GROUP CALLED OKLAHOMA TOMORROW HAS LAUNCHED. HERE WITH US IS ITS CEO DEVERY YOUNGBLOOD THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING WITH US. I RU A LOAD OF YOU SAID ABOUT THE CURRENT BUDGET SITUATION AND YOUR MISSION. HE SAID WE CANNOT ALLOW THE CRISIS TO CRIPPLE TOMORROW’S FUTURE. FROM WHAT I HAVE RESEARCHED, THAT SEEMS TO BE THE BACKBONE OF YOUR MISSION. DEVERY: IT’S HARD. WE HAVE SHORT TERM PROBLEMS THAT ARE DEVASTATING. HIGHER EDUCATION IS A LONG INVESTMENT. IF WE DO WHAT WE ARE DOING, WERE NOT GOING TO HAVE THE OUT IT’S WE NEED TO WE ARE LOOKING THIS PRIVATE SECTOR FOLKS INTO THE JOB PIPELINE AND WE NOT GETTING THE KIND OF GRADUATES WE NEED NOW. IF WE CONTINUE DOWN THIS ROAD, IT’S GOING TO BE VERY HARMFUL TO US AND THE STATE IN THE FUTURE. MARKIE: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A 16% CUT ACROSS THE STATE. MAKING DEGREES LESS OF AN OPTION BECAUSE WITH LESS FUNDING COMES A SPIKE IN TUITION RATES. DEVERY: IT’S ALL OF THAT. IT’S NOMINALLY THAT PART, IT’S 16% LAST YEAR. WE HAVE GOT HIGHER EDUCATION MORE IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS THAN ANY STATE IN AMERICA. WE HAVE LESS IN THE SYSTEM THAN WE DID IN 2001. WE CAN’T GET THE TEACHERS AND PROFESSORS WE NEED FOR MANY OF THE JOBS WE NEED MOST. WE ARE IN THAT NEW KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY AND IT REQUIRES MORE ENGINEERS AND NURSES AND HIGH-TECH JOBS THAT NEED MORE TRAINING. WE CAN’T AFFORD TO GET THOSE KIND OF THINGS. MARKIE KEEP ON TAKING ME THROUGH THIS DOMINO EFFECT. TAKE ME THROUGH THIS LIST. ONE OF THE TOP THINGS YOU ARE ABOUT MOST WOULD COMES TO THIS DROP IN FUNDING WE SEE? DEVERY GENERAL LEAVY, THE COMMANDING OFFICER IS TELLING ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN TO HIM THAT HE CAN HIRE EVERY SINGLE ENGINEER THAT WE GRADUATE IN OKLAHOMA NEXT YEAR AND STILL HAVE EMPTY CHAIRS. THAT UP TO SCARE US. WE SEE THAT CARRIED OUT OVER ALL OF THESE OTHER PLACES THAT NEED PLACES AS WELL. ALL OF THESE OTHERS DESPERATELY NEED THAT. WE ARE NOT ABLE TO PRODUCE THEM AT THE LEVEL WE NEED, MUCH LESS IN THE FUTURE. MARKIE: EVERY PUBLIC NURSING SCHOOL IN OKLAHOMA IS AT CAPACITY. NEW STUDENTS THEY CAN TAKE IN, WE ARE TURNING AWAY STUDETS LEFT AND RIGHT. DEVERY: WE HAVE A CRITICAL NURSING SHORTAGE NATIONWIDE AND IN OKLAHOMA WE’RE MAKING IT WORSE. WE ARE TURNING AWAY PEOPLE WHO ARE QUALIFIED, BUT WE DON’T EXPAND THEM INTO THE THINGS IT WE NEED. ONE SIMULATED PATIENT THAT A NURSE HAS TO WORK ON COSTS $85,000. SOME OF THE SCHOOLS HAVE TO HAVE MULTIPLE OF THESE. YOU WANT THEM WORKING ON THESE THINGS. WE HAVE A CRITIC NEED AND WE ARE TURNING PEOPLE AWAY. MARKIE: IF WE ARE TURNING AWAY THESE PEOPLE, WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR US WHEN YOU HAVE NOT EDUCATED AN ENTIRE GROUP OF PEOPLE WANTING TO GO INTO THOSE FIELDS? DEVERY: WE WANT TO DIVERSIFY OUR ECONOMY SO THE NEXT OIL AND GAS DOWNTURN DOESN’T HURT QUITE AS MUCH. THE VERY THING THAT WE NEED TO DO WE’RE MAKING IMPOSSIBLE. WE MIGHT SOLVE A SHORT-TERM PROBLEM BUT WE ARE MAKING A LONG-TERM PROBLEM WORSE AND WE WILL HAVE MORE PROBLEMS IN THE FUTURE. WE ARE NOT PRODUCING THE KINDS OF GRADUATES WE NEED. MARKEY: PEOPLE ARE BEING TOLD THAT THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION WAS BAD. I KNOW PEOPLE HAVE HOPES. A LOT OF PEOPLE AT HOME WANT TO BE HIT WITH THE TRUTH. AT WHAT POINT DO YOU GET BACK ON YOUR FEET FROM BEING IN THESE KINDS OF TRENCHES? WE’RE TRYING TO FILL A BUDGET DEFICIT HERE. DEVERY WE HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS THERE AND PEOPLE THAT WE ARE TALKING WITH AT ALL LEVELS. IF THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE AND OTHER PLACES. WE WANT TO WORK WITH THEM. THEY HAVE BRUTAL DECISIONS THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE. IF YOU SUPPORT SOME OF THOSE OTHER THINGS LIKE, NED AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS, YOU NEED TO SUPPORT THE ABILITY TO PUT PEOPLE THROUGH THE COLLEGE SYSTEM AND BE PRODUCTIVE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY. THAT’S LONG-TERM HOW WE GET MORE DOLLARS FOR ALL OF THIS. THE FIRST THING WE HAVE DONE IS GET OUT TO SEE THE COLLEGES AND UNDERSTAND THINGS OURSELVES. WE HEAR THINGS IT WE WANTED TO VERIFY FOR OURSELVES. ONE OF THE BIGGEST ONE IS HIGHER AND IS FLUSH WITH MONEY. I HAVEN’T SEEN THAT AT ALL. I WOULD ENCOURAGE ANYBODY WHO THINKS THAT THE SITDOWN WITH THE CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER AT ANY ONE OF THESE QUALITY — COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. IT’S JUST NOT THERE. WE’RE TRYING TO CUT THROUGH AND FIND OUT WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON. AS WE LOOK OUTCOME WE KNOW IT’S GOING TO IMPACT IS EVEN MORE. MARKIE: THE NEXT SESSION STARTS FEBRUARY 6 WILL YOU BE AT THE CAPITAL EVERY DAY TALKING TO LAWMAKERS? DEVERY: WE WILL BE TALKING TO THEM AND AS MUCH AS ANYTHING SHOW WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE PRIVATE SIDE. WE HAVE NOT BEEN THE VOICE OF THE TABLE AND THAT IS ON US. THEY ARE FIGURED OUT HOW TO PUT THINGS IN PLACE. WE ARE THERE NOW. MARKIE: I KNOW YOU WERE TALKING TO STUDENTS WHO ARE GOING THROUGH THIS. A DEGREE IS NOT AN OPTION FOR THEM. WHAT HE HEARING FROM STUDENTS? DEVERY: I LEARNED MORE FROM THEM FROM ANYBODY ELSE I TALKED TO. WE HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE IN OKLAHOMA WHO ARE’S WORKING SO HARD TO STAY IN COLLEGE. THEY ARE PAYING THEIR OWN WAY. MOST ARE INTO YOUR SCHOOLS. THEY ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE THE FIRST GENERATION IN THEIR FAMILY. MARKIE: WHAT IS THAT NUMBER TO QUITE TOO? DEVERY IT’S 45% OF EVERYBODY IN COLLEGE ARE IN OUR TO YOUR SYSTEM. THEY ARE ONE CAR REPAIR AWAY FROM SHOPPING OUT OF COLLEGE FOREVER. WE ARE EXACERBATING THE PROBLEM A LOT WHILE WE TRY TO SOLVE A SHORT-TERM PROBLEM.