An Influencer and Game Changer
Mickey Dollens, a State Representative in Oklahoma, shared his thoughts on education reform, tax reform and other political issues that are crucial to the state of Oklahoma. Before I talk about education, a few things about Mickey. Mickey and I met almost 10 years ago at The Alpha Project, owned by Rob Lord. Mickey was training for the NFL combine at the time and I was just powerlifting. We ended up becoming good friends and that’s where I learned that Mickey wasn’t just a beast of an athlete, but one of the most driven individuals I’ve met.
Mickey wrote a book to help high school students promote themselves for college scholarships, titled Recruit Yourself: Earn A NCAA Scholarship. Mickey also made the US Olympic Bobsled Team before he founded the company Tree Trunx Fitness, which sells knee sleeves and other lifting apparel, as well as, plants a tree for every pair of knee sleeves sold. He is so prolific and always uses his opportunities to help others.
Education and GDP Relationship
Now that I’ve hit some highlights about Mickey, I want to discuss the current issues in Oklahoma, involving education, prison and poverty. As shown by the following article, there is definitely a correlation between dollars spent on education and overall GDP of a state (http://theconversation.com/does-government-spending-on-education-promote-economic-growth-60229). So, it puzzles me, when the same people who want to lower crime, increase overall well being for citizens and increase economic growth are the same people that are reluctant to fund public education. There’s also great evidence (though not so much in Oklahoma) that school funding can be correlated with race/ethnicity.
Education Funding and Ethnicity/Race
So first, let’s discuss the data behind education funding and race of a community. The following article walks you through data that demonstrates racial bias towards funding in schools. (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/public-school-funding-and-the-role-of-race/408085/). Black students in America and Black communities in America suffer the most inequity when it comes to funding. This lack of funding, when correlated with the GDP of a community, can point to reasons why lack of education funding can perpetuate a cycle of poverty. Now, what does this have to do with current laws in Oklahoma?
From Poverty to Prison
Oklahoma is 2nd in the country in prison population. This article better describes how poverty creates a fast track to prison (https://qz.com/1233966/new-data-clearly-illustrate-the-poverty-to-prison-pipeline/). I think it’s important that people realize the link between poverty and prison isn’t simply a correlation, but rather a causation, where those who are impoverished, for a variety of social, psychological, and economic reasons resort to crime and find themselves in prison. Couple this data with the fact that Oklahoma has laws in place that have been shown to target minorities and the poor (especially poor minorities, such as marijuana laws) and you create a system that has caused the poverty rate to rise to 16.3%. (https://okpolicy.org/2016-oklahoma-poverty-profile/). So, we have lack of funding for education, which perpetuates poverty, which feeds into the prison system. This sucks. HARD!
So, what are some solutions that Mickey Dollens and other representatives are trying to pass through legislation?
- Raise income tax on the top earners in Oklahoma by 0.25% from 5% to 5.25%
- Allocate more funds towards education.
- Institute a COLA (cost of living adjustment) that will raise pensions, salaries and other benfits of educators.
- Remove archaic laws that imprison non-violent, non-psychotic offender.
There are many more solutions that Mickey discusses and I hope you listen to them. Remember to always get involved with your local government and stay informed. Thank you for reading and remember to check out the blog where we take a deeper dive on these issues.
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