Oklahoma: Where School Choice Comes Sweeping Down the Plain?

My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow is also a contributing editor and regular writer for the national publication School Reform News. His latest takes a look at some heartening developments from the Sooner State:

A trio of school choice bills has accelerated Oklahoma’s progress toward expanding educational options for state students.

With strong official backing from Republican legislative leaders, proposals to increase the number of charter schools and create charter-like “empowered” schools or school zones have won widespread support from lawmakers. A bill to provide tax-backed tuition scholarships to special-needs students also has earned bipartisan approval in both houses of the legislature.

This is potentially a big step forward for school choice in Oklahoma. Two of the three pieces of legislation — the charter school expansion and the special-needs scholarships — are still in conference committee in the legislature. Here’s hoping they pass through intact, and that Governor Brad Henry sees fit to sign good policy into law.

When that happens, maybe you’ll see little Eddie singing, “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'”. I’m not an “all or nothin'” person on education reform. Giving some kids the opportunity to choose a better education is to be preferred over helping no kids at all. But that shouldn’t stop us from continuing to press forward. We certainly can’t say that any state has “gone about as fur as they can go” when it comes to school choice. Let’s go further. See how happy it would make these folks?

So please, Sooner State, please come through: Oklahoma!