OCPA official: Oklahomans deserve preschool choices

BY BRANDON DUTCHER Published: January 30, 2013
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“As more and more states embrace school choice,” I wrote in The Oklahoman in 2007, “it's reasonable to believe Oklahoma will too.”

Indeed, Oklahoma in 2010 enacted school choice for special-needs children, and in 2011 a tax credit for donations that help children afford private schools. And as we celebrate National School Choice Week this week, I believe educational freedom will continue to spread.

National School Choice Week is all about the idea that “parents and children should have the ability to choose high-performing traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, magnet schools, virtual schools or homeschooling.”

Here's one idea I'm particularly fond of: preschool choice.

Oklahoma is “the leader in early child care education,” The Oklahoman reported on April 29, 2012. In one sense, that's true. Some Oklahoma public schools proudly offer “extended day care,” for example. Others will happily enroll your 6-week-old student in an “education” program whose “curriculum” encourages “language enrichment” and “problem solving.”

In August 2011, SoonerPoll asked Oklahoma voters: “In two important ways, Oklahoma is a national leader in early childhood education. First, among all the states Oklahoma has the highest percentage of 4-year-olds in state-funded preschool programs. Secondly, Oklahoma is one of the few states that offer a tax break for stay-at-home parents. Assuming there is a limited amount of money, which of the following do you think should take precedence: Increasing the amount of money spent on preschool programs for 4-year-olds, or expanding the tax break for parents who stay at home with their 4-year-olds?”