By May 2, 2016 Uncategorized 5 Comments

The following is a secret transcript for an upcoming episode of the Dr. Phil Show.

Dr. Phil: (Entrance music ends)  Today, you will be meeting a couple whose relationship is clearly on the rocks. After many years of harmony, these two parties are now caught in a bitter dispute over their goals and the future direction of their relationship.

Let me introduce our couple.

OklaEd represents the hard-working, professional educators of Oklahoma. OklaEd says that since 2010, and shortly after the installation of an unqualified, malevolent dentist to the state’s top education post, that the leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature (OkLeg) have become angry, distant and dismissive. OklaEd claims that their partner, OKLeg, has failed to provide adequate financial support while imposing unnecessary and punitive requirements at home.

OkLeg counters that OklaEd is only interested in them for their money and has not done a good job taking care of their 680,000 children. OkLeg would like to have an open relationship and allow other partners into the state to see if they can do a better job. They want OklaEd to be more appreciative of their efforts and occasionally give them a hug.

Dr. Phil: Okay, first of all, I’m just letting you both know this is not my first rodeo. Let’s also be clear that no matter how thin you make a pancake, it’s still got two sides. So, let’s get started. OklaEd, what is your primary beef with OkLeg?

OklaEd: It’s obvious that OkLeg has their eyes on someone else. They have cut our support and disparaged our profession with mindless reforms and unfunded mandates. It’s like they don’t trust us anymore, despite the fact that we have been serving our state very well for a hundred years.

OkLeg: Hold on! That’s simply NOT true. We are giving you more money now than we did five years ago. How can you complain?

OklaEd: You’re forgetting that most of that money went to support increases in health insurance premiums and to shore up our retirement benefits. We have also taken on 40,000 more kids during that time. More kids cost more money!

Dr. Phil:  Okay everyone, let’s slow things down. OkLeg, the truth doesn’t have versions. Is it true that OklaEd is having to educate 40,000 more kids, yet is getting less money per kid than they did before the great recession? My researchers tell me that per pupil spending from state aid is down 24% since 2009. That represents the largest cut to public education of any state in the nation.

OkLeg: That may be partially right, but look here. We have a major fiscal crisis in our state because of low oil and gas prices. It’s not our fault. It’s due to the failed foreign policy of that Democrat in the White House. We’re just trying to take care of everyone by passing additional tax cuts and incentives for out-of-state corporations. This will stimulate our economy and generate new revenues.

Dr. Phil: Oh, c’mon! That dog don’t hunt. You have been making that same claim for many years. How’s that plan workin’ for you?

OkLeg: It will work if we give it enough time. We need another four years in office for the full magic to trickle down. Anyhow, we are trying to hold OklaEd as harmless as we can in the budget agreement. OklaEd needs to own up to the fact that they spend too much on frivolous admin costs and pass more of our money to the kids.

OklaEd: We have some of the lowest administrative costs in the nation. You’ve already cut our support by four percent this year and we’ve been told to expect another five percent next year. The bottom line is legislators in other states are taking better care of their schools. As a result, many of our best teachers are leaving the state for higher wages and more legislative love.

Dr. Phil: You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, OkLeg. If you want a different result, maybe you need to try a different behavior.

OkLeg: You’re not being fair, Dr. Phil. We have been very good to OklaEd. The fact that they want more doesn’t mean we can afford it. We made a pledge to our wealthy constituents to do everything we can so they can keep more of their hard-earned money. That’s called capitalism. OklaEd needs to tighten its belt just like Oklahoma families do.

OklaEd: How can you say you’re taking good care of us? Our teachers have not had a pay raise in ten years. At the same time, you want to shift some of the state money to private schools. After all our years of faithfulness, you now want to cheat on us and take away our money and kids.

OkLeg: Hey, competition is good in any relationship. You haven’t held up your part of the deal so why shouldn’t we look around for better options? The charters and private schools smile and treat us like we’re important to them. We have feelings too!

Dr. Phil: Oh my, this relationship needs a hero. In the interest of time, I’m going to put some verbs in my sentences. OkLeg, you need to support your schools. It’s important for teachers to earn a fair wage and have your respect. Can you at least agree to get rid of some of your stupid house rules, things like excessive testing, evaluating teachers based on student test scores, and an A-F system which simply punishes schools for having too many students in poverty?

OkLeg: We will agree some of those things are dumb. The dentist made us do those. However, we still don’t trust teachers to not take advantage of us and lose another generation of children. The union protects too many bad teachers. How do we know they will hold up their end of the bargain?

OklaEd: We are the same people who educated you and your parents. You turned out okay and so did thousands of doctors, lawyers, architects, business owners, accountants, scientists, and other professionals in our state. We love children and want to help every one of them to be happy and successful in whatever they choose to do in life. We are also fine with being held accountable. However, this is best done at the local level by our school boards and principals. In short, we don’t need you to be so controlling. We deserve your trust!

Dr. Phil: We’re going to get you some help with this. OkLeg, my producers are providing you with this all-expense paid link to the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s web page. David Blatt and his team have studied the budget issue very closely and have some excellent suggestions. I don’t think they would even mind if you just copied them right from their site.

OklaEd, you need to know you’re doing incredible work and changing the lives of children every day. You should have confidence that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn from time to time. So can OkLeg. Maybe OkLeg will recognize the error of their ways and work to restore this relationship. But, you may figure out that they’re just not into you anymore and it may be time for a change. If that’s the case, you may just need to vote them out and start a new relationship with a brand new OkLeg.

Well folks, that’s our time today. I’m not sure we solved any problems but at least both sides know where they stand.

Speaking of strange relationships, join us next time when we try to figure out the weird connection between Donald Trump and otherwise rational, intelligent human beings. You won’t want to miss that!

(Dr. Phil walks off with his wife, Robin, as OklaEd and OkLeg continue to throw barbs at each other on stage.)

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