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Senate vote jeopardizes Oklahoma higher education funding

Sen. Constance N. Johnson Sen. Constance N. Johnson
Sen. Jabar Shumate Sen. Jabar Shumate

The Senate approved two measures Tuesday that democrat Senators Constance N. Johnson and Jabar Shumate believe could jeopardize the state’s higher education funding. Senate Bills 58 and 59 remove the mandate for a Langston University presence in Tulsa and allows for the duplication of Langston University course offerings – both of which are in direct violation of a 1978 agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights mandating that Langston University would have a presence in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City and that it’s courses would not be duplicated by other universities.

The State Board of Regents is currently in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Education to address the state’s being out of compliance with that 1978 agreement.

Sen. Johnson said the bills would put Oklahoma even further out of compliance with the federal agreement threatening Langston and other schools’ federal funding.

“This assault on the historic mission of Langston University with regard to the education of underserved groups is unwarranted,” said Johnson. “Not only does the passage of these measures put our federal education funding in jeopardy, it also demonstrates disregard for the value that Langston University has brought to our state in educating such populations.”

Sen. Shumate feels this legislation should be killed in order to allow the State Board of Regents to continue to work on negotiations with the U.S. Department of Education.

“Those who supported these bills are putting the cart before the horse,” said Shumate, D-Tulsa. “We need to respect the process and allow the State Regents to continue negotiations with the U.S. Department of Education before we start passing legislation that could negatively impact our federal education funding.”

SB 58, which passed 35-11, would eliminate the requirement that the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents establish a branch of the university within the Tulsa metropolitan area.

SB 59, which passed 36-10, would allow the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to establish a baccalaureate degree program in accounting at Oklahoma State University/Tulsa.

The bills will now move to the House for further consideration.

History of state's 1978 agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights

Contact info
Sen. Johnson: (405) 521-5531 Sen. Shumate: (405) 521-5598