Sen. Clark Jolley announced Wednesday that he would hold Senate Bill 609 over until the 2016 session enabling supporters to work throughout the interim to address questions about the benefits of the school choice plan. SB 609, authored by Jolley in the Senate and Rep. Jason Nelson in the House, creates Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), giving parents more options for their child’s education. Sen. Jolley and Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statements.
Statement from Sen. Clark Jolley:
“I am committed to helping all Oklahoma children receive the best education possible, whether it’s through a public school, a private school, or some other alternative, including virtual schools. I firmly believe we need to support Oklahoma parents in their efforts to make the best choice possible for their children. For my wife and me, the choice we made for our children was public education. But that may not be the best option for other parents.
“Education savings accounts would enable more Oklahoma parents to make that choice for their child by allowing them to use part of his or her state education funding to pursue the schooling that best suits a student’s needs. Public schools would actually see an increase in per-pupil revenue as a result of this plan. Other states already offer this option for education, and I am convinced this would enhance our efforts to improve education levels in our state.
“While I believe there is support for passing the measure on the floor this year, I am also very aware that there has been much misinformation about what the bill would or would not do, raising questions and concerns for some legislators and their constituents. So rather than pushing ahead, I plan to work throughout the interim to make sure all our members and our citizens have the facts and can clearly understand the value of offering greater choice to parents seeking the best education possible for their children.” --Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond
Statement from President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman:
“I am grateful to Senator Jolley for his work on Senate Bill 609, and I appreciate his willingness to keep the conversation moving forward on the issue of school choice. We are all committed to providing the best possible educational experience for Oklahoma children, regardless of their socioeconomic status. A more in-depth discussion throughout the interim will give lawmakers the opportunity to consider in greater detail how expanding educational opportunity for students can help us make progress toward a better education system. Ultimately, our focus must be to improve educational outcomes for all students, and we can do so by working to strengthen schools at all levels.” –Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa