Oklahoma GOP Leaders Follow Florida's Education Overhaul

Wednesday, March 30th 2011, 6:17 pm
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Oklahoma is following the lead of the Sunshine State with GOP-sponsored reforms to bring more accountability and more rigorous standards to Oklahoma's public school system.

Bush joined Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and GOP lawmakers Wednesday to highlight what they say is a need to overhaul public education in the state.

But critics maintain Florida's approach to changing education may not work here, and that what Oklahoma schools really need are more funding after years of budget cutbacks.

Among the changes Republican leaders are seeking in Oklahoma are making it easier to fire bad teachers, providing parents with letter grades for schools based on performance.

"The underperforming schools were no longer 'underperforming,' they were D and F. I can't tell you how powerful that is to get people to say 'Holy schneike, we'd better do something different.' Underperforming is just not cuttin' it. But D, F, it gets people motivated to improve things," said Bush.

Leaders also plan to end the practice of promoting students to the next grade level before they've reached certain achievement standards.

Former Governor Bush said there are just two states he's aware of that are serious about adopting the sort of comprehensive reforms needed to catapult them in front of the others, Indiana and Oklahoma.