OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Education bills continue to be front and center at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
A bill passed the State Senate Tuesday that would allow Oklahoma public school students open transfer between districts. The author of the bill says it lets parents make the best choice for their child. Opponents says it does what’s best for a few students but forgets the rest.
“We cant ask every school to be everything to every kid,” said Sen. Adam Pugh.
Pugh, a Republican from Edmond, says that’s why he wrote Senate Bill 783. Legislators say there are close to 30,000 students each year that transfer between districts. But there are 3,000 students that get denied. This bill would ease requirements and restrictions making for a more open transfer policy.
“You can shop wherever you want, you can go see any doctor you want. You can go to church wherever you want, you can go to college wherever you want, but by golly, if you live in a neighborhood that doesn’t serve you and your kids, too dang bad,” said Pugh.
But there was pushback during debate.
“The problem with this bill is that it doesn’t pay attention to all the kids that are left behind,” said Sen. Mary Boren.
The Democrat from Norman says this bill is like other education reforms on the agenda this spring.
“They are not directed at the most students of all the parents that want to stay in their community schools and need more funding at a regional average and need the resources so that they can feel successful and safe in those schools,” said Boren.
The Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee says they are happy the bill lets local districts set student limits.
All involved say they don’t anticipate a mass exodus from one school district to another. But opponents argue it continues to hurt struggling schools by taking away students, which decreases funding.
Pugh disagrees, he says in the 43 other states that have similar legislation, “it does identify maybe some things that need to change in those school districts and it incentivizes to work hard to keep those kids there.”
The bill passed but not straight along party lines, 32-15. It now moves to the Oklahoma House where a similar bill passed there last month.