Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Superintendent candidates offer clear choice on choice

Gov. Brad Henry yesterday signed legislation which will provide scholarships to special-needs students in Oklahoma. With regard to these special-needs scholarships, it's interesting to note the contrasting positions of the two candidates for state school superintendent.

The Democratic candidate, state Sen. Susan Paddack of Ada, voted against the bill. The Republican candidate, Dr. Janet Barresi of Edmond, yesterday released a statement supporting the legislation:
“House Bill 3393 gives the parents of special-needs children greater control over their children’s education and, as a result, gives those children greater opportunities throughout their lives,” said Barresi, who helped launch two public charter schools that serve both traditional students and those on individualized education programs (IEPs). “All those who supported this important law, both Democrat and Republican, are to be commended, but state Representative Jason Nelson deserves an extra heaping of praise. This year he was a tireless and forceful advocate for the children and parents who are too often overlooked by the system.”

House Bill 3393, by Nelson and State Sen. Patrick Anderson, would allow students with disabilities who have an IEP to qualify for a scholarship to attend any private school that meets the accreditation requirements of the State Board of Education. The scholarship program does not require new spending, but merely redirects existing state funds that are currently spent on the student.

“Like many important reforms, this law was opposed by the defenders of the status quo,” Barresi said. “But I believe those opposing House Bill 3393 have forgotten the true goal of our public education system -- to provide all children, no matter what their circumstances, with a quality education that allows them to become productive citizens as adults. House Bill 3393 accomplishes that goal. As State Superintendent, my mission will be to continue empowering parents and improving the lives of all Oklahoma children.”

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