Oklahoma House and Senate decide not to vote on school vouchers this session


[FILE] A file photograph showing chemistry, physics and science textbooks sitting on an empty student desk inside an Atlanta, Georgia school.

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Oklahoma House and Senate leaders announced neither the House and Senate will be voting on a controversial education spending measure.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview and Senate President Pro-Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa in a statement announced the Oklahoma Legislature will not be voting on bills related to the Education Savings Accounts.

House Bill 2949 and Senate Bill 609 both would have created an education voucher system to allow students to attend home school, online school, or private school with state funding.

Both Hickman and Bingman said they will continue to work with other legislators to resolve education funding issues in Oklahoma.

Various politicians and state education advocates spoke out about today’s decision to allow the bills to be dormant for this session. Some praise the bill and opposition are unhappy the legislation did not move forward.

Gov. Mary Fallin wrote in a statement she is appreciative of the Legislature continuing a dialogue about the Education Savings Accounts.

“It’s important to give low-income parents the ability to determine the best educational opportunities for their children. All students learn differently and should have the opportunity to attend a school that offers the best learning environment for each student to be successful. I look forward to working with the House and Senate to develop effective legislation on ESAs.”

Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City is disappointed the legislation in the House and Senate will not be voted on this session. Nelson was one of the authors of House Bill 2949.

“To improve our schools, we have to face the reality that our public schools cannot be everything to everyone. In today’s world, different students have different needs. We are no longer the society of one-room schools or a homogenous society that only educated the elite. Our teachers are pushed to the max. Their hands are tied when it comes to discipline. To force upon them children who could be better served elsewhere is unconscionable. While others think maintaining the status quo is to be preferred, I strongly disagree and will continue to fight because each child deserves a shot at a good education regardless of geography and family income.”

Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, praises House and Senate members for choosing not to move forward with both bills. Hime labeled the bills as “divisive.”

” Budget cuts and the teacher shortage crisis demand that state, business and education leaders work together with parents on a long-term funding solution for public schools. That’s the conversation our nearly 700,000 students in public schools need us to have. No child should go without a high-quality teacher, and every school must have the resources necessary to provide a rich educational experience for all children.”

The Oklahoma Education Association issued a statement on Facebook praising the fact that the legislation is dead for this current year.

The Cooperative Council For Oklahoma School Administration is appreciative the bill isn’t moving forward.

“The proposed programs provided no accountability for taxpayer dollars and could have resulted in taxpayer funds being used for inappropriate purposes. We appreciate the work of countless Oklahomans and continue to be impressed by their determined advocacy on behalf of their public schools.” 



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