I mentioned yesterday that Speaker-elect Kris Steele supports school choice for special-needs kids (and I suspect for plenty more kids as well).
Oklahoma's new Senate leader, Brian Bingman, also supported the special-needs scholarship bill and favors other school choice options as well. Sen. Bingman was among a group of Oklahomans who traveled to Pennsylvania last year to see firsthand how school choice is working there. As Patrick McGuigan reported, "the group visited 'choice' schools in the Keystone State, talked with organizers of Pennsylvania's tax credit program, interacted with a bipartisan mix of lawmakers and activists, and had the opportunity to press for details on how the program works in practice."
And our friends at the Center for Education Reform remind us that our Governor-elect, Mary Fallin, is also a friend of school choice. Indeed, while in Congress, Fallin co-sponsored the "School Choice for Foster Kids Act," a bill which would authorize states to provide vouchers to foster kids to cover tuition costs at private schools.
Add to this a new state Superintendent, Janet Barresi, who helped launch two public charter schools and who supports a variety of choice options (including school choice for special-needs kids).
In short, we are entering a new era in Oklahoma, and likely will be participating in the seismic shift that is taking place nationwide.
The end goal of “public education” is an educated public. There are many different means to an end. Educational choice refers to any policy that allows parents to choose the safest and best schools for their children, whether those schools are government-operated or privately operated. Oklahoma, which is among the nation's parental-choice leaders, is fortunate to have many forms of choice: charter schools, magnet and specialty schools, online schools, tax-credit scholarships, special-needs scholarships, a thriving homeschool sector, and more.
Professor Jay Greene has perceptively noted that, in a free society, the government rightly defers to parents when it comes to raising their children. And since education is simply a subcategory of parenting, the government should defer to parents when it comes to educating their children. Parents, not government officials, should determine their child’s path. Thus, when it comes to Oklahoma education (#OklaEd), policymakers should invest in the children, not in the system.
The views expressed in these posts are those of the bloggers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any institution. The goal of this blog is to create an open discussion about education reform (most notably parental choice) in Oklahoma. All feedback is welcome as long as it includes the commenter's name and doesn't violate the common rules of netiquette.