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Legislators Say Poor Math Scores Justify Need for Changes in Superintendent Selection

State Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson and State Representative Thad Balkman said recent reports reflecting poor math scores by Oklahoma high school students show the need for the public to decide whether the office of state superintendent should be appointed by the governor rather than elected.

“Out of 44,000 Oklahoma high school students, only 22 percent were proficient in algebra. That means more than three-fourths don’t have the math skills they need for college. This is further proof that we cannot afford the status quo any longer,” said Senator Wilcoxson, R-OKC.

Earlier this month, Wilcoxson and Balkman announced plans to file a joint resolution that would let voters decide whether to appoint the state superintendent. Both lawmakers cited research showing that states with the model they are proposing have higher academic results than others.

“When the vast majority of students tested cannot do math proficiently, it is time to quit playing politics with their future and make some serious changes for the better. As it is, this is simply unacceptable,” explained Balkman, R-Norman.

Wilcoxson and Balkman will work to pass Senate Joint Resolution 28 when the 2004 legislative session begins in February. They will also seek passage of a companion measure, Senate Bill 849, which would change the way the state Board of Education is appointed.

If the constitutional amendment contained in SJR 28 is approved by voters, the changes would take effect in January 2007.

“Our students should arrive at college prepared to do college-level work. It is frightening to realize that less than one-fourth of them have that ability. No one thing will solve every problem in public education, but we do know we can go no further than our leadership,” said Senator Wilcoxson.

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Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5774