The relationship between charter schools and Tulsa Public Schools has been described as a "shotgun wedding". It was a bad idea to only allow the local school districts to be the sponsor of charter schools. But at least we got the charter school act passed and it has been the law in Oklahoma since 1999.
As I have pointed out before, Tulsa has been stuck on 3 charter schools since the laws enactment and OKC has at least 10. Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, Dove Science Academy and Deborah Brown Elementary are the 3 Tulsa charter schools. They are exemplary! TULSA NEEDS MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS!
The TPS Board will consider a resolution regarding charter schools this Monday evening that will make more Tulsa charter schools impossible. Here is the text of the resolution:
BOARD RESOLUTION ON CHARTER SCHOOLS
I move that the Board of Education adopt the following resolution as to charter
schools and the Tulsa School District:
WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act (the “Act”) provides that charter schools
may only be sponsored by certain Oklahoma school districts; and
WHEREAS, the school districts which are required to consider sponsoring charter
schools are limited in number based on student population in the school district and
population of the county or adjacent county in which the school district exists (i.e., only school districts that have an average daily student membership of 5,000 students or more, and that are located in Tulsa County or Oklahoma County OR in a county that is contiguous with Tulsa or Oklahoma County can serve as a charter school sponsor); and
WHEREAS, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, there are only
20 school districts in the State of Oklahoma that meet the population limits provided for in the Act; and
WHEREAS, of these twenty school districts, five are located in counties that are not
contiguous with Tulsa or Oklahoma County and thus are not subject to the terms of the
Charter Schools Act; and
WHEREAS, the Charter Schools Act expressly exempts two school districts (the
Norman School District and the Yukon School District) from coverage of the Act even
though these two districts would otherwise be subject to the terms of the Act; and
WHEREAS, as a result, only thirteen school districts in Oklahoma are required to
consider charter school applications for sponsorship; and
WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Constitution specifically prohibits the legislature from
passing "special or local" laws regulating the affairs of school districts; and
WHEREAS, due to the population, geographic and specifically-named exemptions, the
Charter Schools Act is an unconstitutional "local or special" law; and
WHEREAS, Tulsa Public Schools made an effort in 2006 to bring these concerns to the
attention of the Oklahoma Legislature with the intent of correcting the constitutional defects of the Act; and
WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Legislature made no changes to the Act in 2006 relevant to
the constitutional defects of the Act.
WHEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that effective immediately and continuing until
such time as the Board of Education rescinds this resolution, the following shall govern this Board's actions towards charter schools in this District.
Pending the final resolution of the constitutionality of the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act by either legislation or litigation:
1. The Board of Education will consider charter renewals, for a period not longer
than three (3) fiscal years, for schools currently under charter with Tulsa Public
Schools pursuant to the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act; provided, however, that
any such renewed charter must contain a provision that, following any final
decision by a court of competent jurisdiction that the Charter Schools Act is
unconstitutional, the existing charter shall immediately be null and void with all
funding obligations by the District to immediately cease.
2. The Board of Education will not consider requests for renewal of existing charters
to the extent that they propose to expand operations to serve more students than
are provided for or permitted under the current charter.
3. Subject to the limitations in this resolution, future requests for renewal of an
existing charter will remain subject to review, amendment, approval or denial (as
may be appropriate to each request) as provided for under standards of Tulsa
Public Schools as they may change from time to time.
4. The Board of Education will not consider a charter school application for any
school not under charter with Tulsa Public Schools as of the date this resolution
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the renewal of any existing charter does not
waive this School District's right to challenge the constitutionality of the Charter Schools Act at any time in the future, whether in response to litigation initiated by other parties or on its own initiative through an appropriate legal challenge authorized by the Board of Education.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that on the District’s receipt of any charter school
application, the Superintendent of Schools, or designee, shall promptly notify the
applicant, in writing, that the application has been rejected and shall provide the
applicant with a copy of this Resolution which shall serve as the reason for the rejection.
Approved this _______ day of January, 2007.
TPS and their lawyers continuously pound the drum with the mantra that the Oklahoma Charter School Act is unconstitutional. Courts have had several opportunities in the past few years to find just that, but they have side-stepped the issue, or as in the case last year, a similar case was found to be constitutional. Its high time the legislature stepped in and solved this issue.
The current act is a test case and it has been proven that charter schools can and are excellent public schools and worth of public support and expansion. Expand the charter school act to the entire state and see the entrepreneural spirit of Okies come alive!
Allow the State Department of Education, higher education institutions, and city councils to also be charter school sponsors, and have the public funding be a distinct allocation from the traditional public school by the legislature, like career tech is now.
In the meantime, make plans to go the the Education Service Center on Monday evening and sign up to speak in support of the Tulsa charter school effort. It's high time Tulsans got up and spoke out about such an important issue.