OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – The chairman of State Senate Education Committee Adam Pugh, R-Edmond laid out his education reform plan he believes will improve public education outcomes for Oklahoma children.

In his agenda, Pugh, outlined four pillars under which he plans to file bills to improve public education in Oklahoma and vouchers are not part of this particular plan.

The four incentive areas are: Recruiting more qualified teachers to Oklahoma classrooms; Retaining teachers already in the classroom; Rewarding high performing teachers; and Reforming the way public dollars are spent on public education.

“For far too long, Oklahoma has lagged behind the rest of the nation in education outcomes, which is doing a disservice to our children and state overall,” Pugh said. “I was tasked by Pro Tem Greg Treat this interim to come up with a plan that meets our children’s needs today, empowers parents, while ensuring we are rewarding teachers and getting better outcomes for the future of our state. This plan is aggressive, and if implemented will get us on the right path to a better, more prosperous future.”

Recruit/Retain/Reward/Reform

Recruit

SB 529 – $15 million- Create Oklahoma Teacher Corps – provide scholarships to students who enter Oklahoma Colleges of Education, graduate and receive teaching certificate. Those who pass their program must commit four years of service in a Title I school or pay scholarship amount back to state.

SB 522 – $5 million – Mentorship Program – this bill will provide $500 stipends for mentors of new teachers. The goal is to pair every new teacher (both to the career or new to the district) with a mentor.

SB 361 – Create a multistate teacher licensure compact – Be the first state to recognize teacher licensure reciprocity in a multistate compact. Recognize professional experience and licensure from other states, and not lose teachers because of bureaucratic paperwork that discourages immediate entry into the workforce upon moving to Oklahoma.

Retain

SB 364 – $25 million Paid Maternity Leave – Will give teachers who have been with a district for at least one year 12 weeks of maternity leave. With a career field that is 76% female, this will allow new mothers to take time away to be with their newborns and return to the classroom as able. Solves a key workforce issue, is pro-life, and does not force a new parent to choose between career and family.

SB 523 – $50 million School Safety – Provide the Oklahoma School Security Institute with $50 million in grant funding to allocate by application process to meet unique and individual district needs for added security personnel, infrastructure, technology, training.

SB 525 – $1 million Credentialing – Reimburse each school district to pay for recertifying each teachers’ credentials if they are asked to gain additional credentials.

Reward

SB 482 – $241 million Teacher Pay Raise – Provides a teacher pay raise. Moves starting teacher pay to $40,000 with a $3,000 raise at entry through four years. Years five-through-nine will receive $4,000; 10-14 years of experience will receive $5,000; and a teacher with 15+ years of experience will receive $6,000. 

Reform

SB 531 – Removed attendance metric on A-F report card and replace with school climate survey, which includes parents, students, and teachers/staff.

SB 527 – Puts more money toward kindergarten through third grade reading proficiency, with the ultimate goal being 100% reading proficiency for kids entering the fourth grade. Increases K-3 weights, special education weights, transportation weight, and gifted/talented, and socio-economic disadvantaged weights.  

*K-3 100% literacy rate. The last round of NAEP scores showed Oklahoma at 25% ELA assessments.

SB 523 – Learn Everywhere Bill – Recognize that learning takes place in non-traditional settings and allow for credit to include internships, externships, part-time jobs, or other non-classroom activities that directly contribute to learning and college or career advancement.

SB 516 – $1.5 million – Charter School Reform – Combine the virtual charter school board and charter school board. Add stricter accounting requirements, financial controls, and reporting criteria. Require any authorizer fee be expended on charter school oversight, provide training for charter school authorizers, and prevent authorizer ‘shopping’.  

SB 359 – $60M – Funding Formula – Move the funding formula ad valorem dollars to account for previous year actuals and not projected. All chargeables in the funding formula are based on actual numbers except for ad valorem dollars, that is based on a projection. This also accounts for potential ad valorem protests, which can withhold ad valorem dollars despite projected incoming money.  Would predominantly protect rural schools.

SB 520 – Graduation Credits – Build 3 graduation tracks to include college, career, and core. Require four years of math and science for college track to increase STEM preparedness. Recognize that a career and core track can still pursue college and concurrent enrollment. Address Oklahoma’s lagging STEM standards and help build modern high-tech workforce. Opportunity to leverage many partnerships across private and public sector to include local businesses, higher education, career tech and more.

*Funding Request – Move to common Student Information System and update SDE accounting system $11 million – provide SDE and all school districts with technology upgrade to ensure seamless and standardized date entry system.  Will also allow SDE to track how schools spend weighted dollars.  For example, K-3 funding should be spent directly on K-3 students.  There are federal requirements on funding but no such requirements on tracking accountability and transparency of state dollars in funding formula.

“To be clear, this is my plan, supported by bills that I am planning to file,” said Pugh “They are a direct result of input I received over the summer after conversations with superintendents, educators, parents, and education advocacy groups. As Oklahomans, and especially as lawmakers, we need to do whatever it takes to ensure our children are getting the best education possible.”

Joining Pugh at today’s announcement was Jeff James, a veteran of the United States Air Force who is the president of the Air and Space Forces Association of Central Oklahoma and the State STEM Program Coordinator for the Air Force Association.

“Sen. Pugh has outlined an agenda that aims to better prepare Oklahoma students for the future workforce they will face after high school and beyond,” James said.

Another supporter of Pugh’s work is Edmond Public Schools Superintendent Angela Grunwald, who said she hopes the plan is implemented to help public education across the state.

“We need bold actions to bring back the respect that our educators and support staff deserve. These pieces of legislation have the potential to do that. We cannot forget that these powerful legislative goals are in the best interest of the students across our state,” says Grunewald.

In asking for an additional 541 million dollars to fund this plan without vouchers, Sen. Pugh believes the ultimate goal is to provide better outcomes for Oklahoma kids, without discrediting the important work that teachers do and being blindsided by inflation.

“Last year, I asked Sen. Pugh to come up with concepts to improve public education in the state holistically, while getting input from major stakeholders and coming up with a plan to get Oklahoma on the right path for our students. I appreciate the thoughtful efforts Sen. Pugh put into his ideas. His agenda this session is ambitions and I hope Sen. Pugh unveiling his ideas sparks a discussion with others on how to improve education in the state. While individual members will have their own suggestions on how to improve upon his ideas, it is a great place to start as we put our children, their parents and hardworking teachers first. I have full confidence in Sen. Pugh’s abilities to lead these conversations on this important topic.”  

Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat