OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma’s Governor has signed the education budget, including teacher raises, more money for rural schools and school choice tax rebates.
“We know that not every kid learns the same way and now we’re gonna put the parents back in charge because you know your kids better than the government does,” said Governor Stitt at the signing.
The education measure is the largest education investment in Oklahoma’s history, at almost a billion dollars.
“We’re investing a lot in our education system; from 2019 on school choice was was the top of that list to unlock and to make sure that we’re empowering parents,” said the Governor.
The bill essentially makes all Oklahoma families eligible for private school and homeschool tax credits.
While many herald the bill as an opportunity for every family to find a school that best suits their needs, even advocates wonder: who’s ironing out the rest of the details?
The school choice bill creates a tax credit of at least five thousand dollars for families as part of a broader education package that could help the state compete nationally.
“We’ll have to run those numbers. I’ll tell you this. Oklahomans are committed to training and getting every single kid either college ready or career ready when they graduate from high school,” Stitt said.
The tax credits may be good news in January when they go into effect, but one Lawton mom in attendance at Thursday’s bill signing aimed to remind the governor that school starts in the fall.
“[What do we do] with the tax credits not being able to be used until the fall,” said Cartessa Smith, a licensed professional counselor with three young children.
“We should have it before this summer is over [but] right now we don’t have a clear answer to that. And that’s unacceptable,” she continued.
The bill won’t directly benefit Cartessa, but she’s wholeheartedly on board with choice, as long as it’s truly for everybody.
“I want children to be able to learn in an environment that they’re comfortable in and that’s all inclusive [and] they’re accepted.”
“I want every single child out there to have this opportunity [so] that’s is what I’m going to push for. That’s what I’m fighting for, because that’s what’s right,” she said.