House defeats expanded school choice bill

The state House of Representatives defeated a bill that would have authorized the expansion of publicly funded charter schools into rural areas and took up several other controversial measures Thursday during a session that stretched late into the evening.
by Randy Ellis Published: April 24, 2014

The state House of Representatives defeated a bill Thursday that would have authorized the expansion of publicly funded charter schools into rural areas.

The action took place during a late-night session in which House members also voted down a controversial bill that would have affected the selection of appellate judges.

The expanded school choice bill, which House author Lee Denney said was requested by Gov. Mary Fallin, would have set up a procedure for brick-and-mortar charter schools to be established in rural Oklahoma counties.

Currently, such charter schools are limited to Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties, said Denney, R-Cushing.

“Parents do need options,” Denney said, adding that “not all students are doing great” in public schools.

Denney said that under her bill, state per-pupil funding would follow students as they moved to public charter schools.

“Parents know best,” she said.

“They know what’s best for their kids and this is what they want.”

Numerous House members argued against it, contending public schools would be harmed by the loss of funds that would occur as students moved from public to charter schools.

“There’s not enough money for public schools, so we’re going to create more schools?” state Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, asked incredulously.

Senate Bill 573 was defeated by a 26-64 vote.

Judicial selection

State House members Thursday also soundly defeated a bill that would have given the speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate more influence in the process used to nominate members of the state Supreme Court and other appellate courts. The resolution would have changed the makeup of the nominating board.

by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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