Oklahoma’s woes are now so dire that the state is making news in the United Kingdom. Last week, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article about Oklahoma, asking the question “Can anyone fix this failing state?”
The essay, penned by a Canadian professor who’s writing a book about Oklahoma, cited many of the Sooner State’s recent struggles, including “poverty, police abuse, record prison rates and education cuts that mean a four-day school week.”
In addition, the essay noted the state’s crumbling overpasses, frequent earthquakes, and teachers who have fled the state or resorted to panhandling to afford school supplies for their students. In Oklahoma, convenience-store clerks make more than public-school teachers, and one in 12 residents has a felony conviction. And then there’s that pesky budget gap of almost a billion dollars.
Nevertheless, voters often reject referenda that would provide aid to citizens. The author’s conclusion? “There is something deeply ingrained and unyielding in the state’s conservatism.”