Author Promises Changes Will Be Made To School Voucher Bill

Monday, February 20th 2017, 5:07 pm

A controversial school voucher bill passes a Senate education committee by a narrow margin, and with a promise by the author to make a lot of changes

The bill is called the Parent Empowerment, Revenue Enhancement and Classroom Size Reduction Act of 2017, or another way of saying it’s school voucher legislation. 

It would allow parents in Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland counties to move their children and $2,700 per pupil in taxpayer dollars, to another school if the parents meet certain economic guidelines. The bill met some resistance.

"Education is for everyone. It's not just for those that know the way to probably go through the system," said state Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-District 34.

Opponents fear the measure would hurt an already financially strapped educational system. 

Backers say children should have the right to go to schools where they can thrive.

"I believe allowing parents and children the ability to have the choice to go to the school they choose is something that would be a step in the right direction," said Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-District 45.

Sen. Ron Sharp, R-District 17, former teacher himself, said the proposal goes against the will of the people when they voted against education savings plans back in November. 

"Here we are right now, Senators defying the will of the people of the state of Oklahoma by considering this when they clearly said they're against this legislation," Sharp said.

In the end, lawmakers passed the measure under the condition that some changes are made.

“We can't even agree on what the total cost per student. We can agree on the total number ministration cost is. (It) addresses nothing about accountability," said Sen. Jason Smalley, R-District 28.

I think if nothing else we should continue the conversation about If we can craft something to help children because that is what we're here for," said the bill’s author, Majority Whip Rob Standridge.