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Governor Stitt considers ban on education department’s PR spending

"Governor's Education Ban"
“Governor’s Education Ban”

Governor Stitt is considering a ban that could prevent the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) from using taxpayer funds for PR activities. The discussion was ignited after revelations emerged about the OSDE spending $22.5K on public awareness videos produced by Texas-based Precision Outreach. As part of his drive to cut unnecessary state spending, Governor Stitt has reviewed this decision.

Critics oppose the move, arguing that public awareness campaigns can effectively disseminate information on education policies and reforms. Despite the controversy, these videos, despite being a highlight reel from national education organizations, conferences, and critiques of teacher unions, surprisingly drew low viewership on YouTube despite the hefty investment.

Recent documents have unveiled a new contract between the OSDE and Precision Outreach, a $50K agreement for more social media videos. There’s also an ongoing agreement with Washington D.C.-based PR agency Vought Strategies that potentially extends beyond June.

Assessing Governor Stitt’s proposed PR spending ban

This indicates the OSDE’s commitment to a multifaceted communication approach.

Despite reservations, the Senate has advanced a proposal barring the State Department of Education from spending on PR, media interviews, or ad campaigns. The proposal is currently up for review in the House of Representatives. Supporters believe that these funds could better serve educational needs, such as student resources or teacher salaries, while opponents worry that it could affect the Department’s public communication capacities.

Meanwhile, strong opposition has risen against the proposed legislation, which many believe unfairly restricts the OSDE’s control over its PR budget. Critics stress potential detrimental effects, including impacts on campaigns promoting school choice, teacher incentives, maternity leave, school security, and award programs. Furthermore, they note that the ban could negatively impact the promotion of Awareity, a vital reporting service for schools, students, and parents, potentially affecting mental health, crisis response, and child nutrition initiatives.

While debate rages on potential impacts of the proposed law, supporters insist it’s necessary to prevent misuse of taxpayer money. As controversy continues and implications remain uncertain, Governor Stitt has yet to render a final decision.

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