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Education changes debated

Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday April 2, 2009

(above: Host Dick Pryor with (l-r) Ginger Tinney, POE; Steven Crawford (CCOSA); Phyllis Hudecki (OBEC); and Roy Bishop (OEA)

Our guests this week on Oklahoma Forum discussed the pros and cons of two of the education reform bills moving through the legislature, SB 1111 and SB 834. These bills have led to some interesting alliances, and dynamic debate.

SB 834 passed out of a house committee on Wednesday by a vote of 9-5. It would deregulate schools (starting with 20% of them in 2011-12 and adding more schools each year until all schools fall under the act in five years). According to its supporters in the House, SB 834 (establishing the “School District Empowerment Program") would give local school districts more control over the governing of their districts by allowing them to act more like charter schools by allowing school districts to decide which state mandates to implement.

Opponents argue allowing school districts to opt-out of mandates will undo many of the educational requirements that have been imposed by the state, including rolling back many of the reforms enacted in the landmark HB 1017 about 20 years ago.

OEA (Oklahoma Education Association) and POE (Professional Oklahoma Educators) are opposed to the bill, while CCOSA (Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration) and OBEC (Oklahoma Business & Education Coalition) support the bill.

The other bill we discussed, SB 1111, passed 12-3 out of committee this morning, shortly before our taping. Senate Bill 1111, the Educational Accountability Reform Act, moves accountability and the determination of adequate yearly progress, cut scores, the school testing program and the state student record system from the State Department of Education to the Education Quality and Accountability Office, and creates a new entity, the Education Oversight Board to manage testing and school data collection and analysis. OEA, POE and OBEC support the bill, while CCOSA opposes it.

It’s always the sign of a good program when the participants stick around when it’s over to talk some more. I’d love to see some agreements reached as a result of our program. That didn’t happen today, but it was a great panel and we talked about convening again to tackle more education issues later. We are planning on bringing elected officials to the table before long to get their take on this new education legislation and ideas for improving student achievement.

Watch on Sunday at 1:00. It’s a lively show. Send us a comment!

Until next time,
Dick


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