Monday, July 14, 2008

School deregulation bill fizzles in '08

OCPA intern Fletcher Daniels sends along this analysis of a good piece of legislation which, unfortunately, didn't make it to the governor's desk this year:
A Senate bill considered by Oklahoma legislators in the last legislative session would have taken steps towards creating alternatives in education through the establishment of charter districts. After House approval, the bill was narrowly defeated upon its return to the Senate.

SB 2100, authored by Senator John Ford (R-Bartlesville), intended to ease the financial burden placed on local school districts by legislative mandates that require compliance but allocate no funds to the districts to assist in this compliance. The bill would have created a pilot program designating 10 school districts across the state as charter districts. A charter district is one within which public charter schools may be set up through contract with the local school board. These schools would operate in compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations required under the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act, but would otherwise be exempt from "all statutes and rules relating to schools, boards of education, and school districts."

The pilot program also would have allowed any public school in the district to opt out of many of these unfunded mandates. Senator Ford proposed the bill in light of complaints by school board members and superintendents across the state concerning such mandates, and because he believes that locally elected school boards are better than state legislators when it comes to making good decisions concerning the education of the children in their districts.

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