State Senators John Ford, Clark Jolley and Dan Newberry said they were honored to author education reform initiatives championed by Gov. Mary Fallin and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Bush visited Oklahoma last August to outline reform policies that had made a dramatic difference in student achievement in his state. Wednesday he returned to Oklahoma to join Fallin, Sen. President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, House Speaker Kris Steele and Superintendent Janet Barresi at a State Capitol press conference promoting legislation aimed at improving public education.
Jolley, R-Edmond, is principal author of Senate Bill 346 which would end social promotion.
Before Florida implemented this simple reform, nearly half of their fourth graders were functionally illiterate. Now 70 percent are reading at grade level or higher, Jolley said. We can do the same thing for Oklahoma students.
Jolley is also principal author of Senate Bill 348, which calls for creation of a report card for schools using letter grades of A through F to make it easier for parents and patrons to see how well their local schools are performing.
Ford, who represents Craig, Nowata and Washington counties, is principal Senate author of Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1380. Both measures would end the process known as trial de novo, which enables a teacher whose contract has been terminated to appeal a school boards decision to district court.
Under the current system, ending the contract of a bad teacher can cost school districts tens of thousands of dollars and take months to resolve, Ford said. School boards clearly have the authority to hire employees. This simply restores their ability to terminate those who are not acting in the best interest of the students and the district. Good teachers will continue to have much greater employment protection than most Oklahomans have in the private sector.
Newberry, R-Sand Springs, is the author of Senate Bill 969 which will create a privately funded scholarship that can be awarded to students that meet need requirements or that live in underperforming school districts.
We must give every student an opportunity to learn, if their current school is not providing that, this is a way that we can engage the private sector and offer a better option, said Newberry. This bill provides more opportunity to students that currently do not have access to quality education.
Bush praised the reform efforts currently working their way through the Legislature.
Providing every student with a quality education is one of our greatest moral and economic challenges, said Bush. This cannot happen unless we transform the status quo. I applaud the leaders of Oklahoma for their commitment to transform education for the 21st century by holding schools accountable for student learning, placing a command focus on reading, and empowering parents to choose the best education for their child.