To: Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives
From: The Jeffersonian Project
Re: Please Support HB 1696
This week, the Oklahoma House will consider House Bill 1696, which allows the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa to authorize charter schools. Each municipality may only authorize a charter school inside their own inner-city school district and within their own city limits. This bill is specific to Oklahoma City and Tulsa public school districts and provides students in some of the lowest-performing schools additional school choice opportunities.
Any charter authorized by Oklahoma City or Tulsa is subject to a veto by the people of the school district. The bill is permissive only, and the cities do not have to exercise the new power. All potential charters are still subject to the reforms and accountability measures recently included in Senate Bill 782, which expanded charter opportunities outside Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but did not significantly expand charter opportunities in the inner cities.
The Jeffersonian Project recognizes there should be a variety of institutions that can authorize the establishment of charter schools and that independent but publicly accountable multiple authorizing authorities—such as the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa—contribute to the health and growth of strong public charter schools and thriving economies.
Therefore, the purpose of this bill is to establish the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa as potential charter school authorizers in addition to other authorizers already defined in law.
Additionally, this bill provides the people of a community with ultimate oversight by providing the authority to fully veto a charter. There is no fiscal impact to HB 1696. HB 1696 passed the Senate on April 22 by a vote of 38 to 6.
In accordance with the model policies of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Jeffersonian Project supports HB 1696.