Oklahoma City Superintendent Rob Neu recently said in an editorial, "The greatest threat to Oklahoma public education is the people elected to represent Oklahomans and Oklahoma's children." The superintendent was talking about the Legislature and what he called their body of work that includes budget cuts, poor funding, the possible elimination of AP history and most recently, the threat of vouchers.
“I think this bill has potential to do great harm,” said Neu on Tuesday.
Of all bills concerning schools in the Legislature this session, Superintendent Rob Neu said 'Education Savings Accounts' worry him the most.
“They call it the Education Savings Account, it's a voucher bill,” he said.
The bill would provide tax dollars to help parents pay for private school. But it would come from local school districts.
“Now we're going to take money out of public schools and move it to private schools where there is no accountability.”
We met Neu at North Highland Elementary in the heart of Justin Ellis's School Board District 2, where Ellis said the number one challenge is finding and keeping good teachers.
“Whenever we're competing with other states that pay $15,000-$20,000 more than we do it's kind of a no brainer where that teacher is going to go,” said Ellis.
But Neu said that's a lesson legislators just don't seem to be comprehending.
“We're having a really tough time getting teachers here, we know the teacher shortage issue. That's what the legislature needs to be focused on, let's focus on fixing the issues that are right in front of us and let's quit dinking around the edges and get serious about root cause issues.”
Those for the Education Savings Accounts said it would help kids who typically can't afford private school. But Neu said in parts of the country where vouchers have been implemented 73 percent of those dollars have been used by those who are already in private schools.
Neu also said a legislative proposal to get rid of AP history is a great mistake.