This year marks 20 years since Governor Frank Keating signed legislation green-lighting charter schools here in Oklahoma. 

The former governor said he’s glad he signed that legislation but wishes he didn’t have to.  

“We needed to improve public education.  We needed to give options and alternatives to parents that weren’t happy with public education.” Keating said.

Today there are 36,000 students in 66 charter schools in statewide.  Governor Keating said 20-years after he put pen to paper on charter schools, he has no regrets about signing the legislation.  He says charter schools offer choice.

“That’s good news for the kids and the parents because what’s important? To have a well-educated child.  If the public schools don’t work, then you shouldn’t have to go there. They ought to be closed,” Keating said.

The Advanced Science and Technology Education Charter School, or ASTEC, was the first charter school to open in the state at the old Shepherd Mall in Oklahoma City.  It’s still there and so is the school’s founder Freda Deskin.

“When I saw this opportunity for inner-city kids in Oklahoma City, I knew that if I were a real educator, I’d leave my cushy job and do something about the children in Oklahoma City,” said Deskin.

Deskin said as parents continue looking for choice in their children’s education, charter schools will continue to thrive.

“People this day and age are used to choices in everything from insurance to where they live to their schools and they have come to expect that,” Deskin said. “So, I mean I would be thrilled if every public school was first-rate, you get the very best education, After all we pay for it.  And then you wouldn’t have to have a charter school,” Keating added. “The likelihood of that happening is about zero.”

Charter school advocates will be celebrating at the Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City on October 17 at 10 a.m.  For more information click here.