Saturday, June 09, 2007

Good News for Charter Schools!

Unbelievably, Governor Henry signed HB 1589 into law on 6-4-07. This was the culmination of a herculean effort by a group of dedicated parents, leaders and legislators over the past three years. HB1589 significantly improves the Oklahoma Charter School Act of 1999.

The passage was given only cursory coverage by the Tulsa Whirled as reported here. They only point out that Universities in Tulsa and OKC are now potential sponsors for charter schools.

HB 1589 was opposed by the "establishment", or the entrenched bureaucracy as evidenced by this link to a blog by Roy Bishop, whose profile indicates he is President of the Oklahoma Education Association. It took a brave effort on the part of some key Democrat legislators to get this bill passed by the House and Senate, and then to have our Democrat governor sign it.

HB 1589 is effective on July 1, 2007.

Major points:

1. The charter school law now applies to only the Oklahoma City and Tulsa School Districts.

2. The bill adds Universities or Higher Ed as potential sponsors of charter schools. Now there will be 3 potential sponsors; the local school district, Career Tech/Tulsa Tech, and Universities.

3. Funding for the state aid portion of the finances for charters will continue to flow through the local school district if they are the sponsor, otherwise, this bill changes the flow of funding for charters sponsored by Career Tech/Tulsa Tech and Universities to come through the State Department of Education (SDE).

4. A last minute compromise was to limit the number of new charters created in each district to 3 per year. (I think slow and steady growth is better than too much too fast)

5. Charter school organizers will have to complete some training (to be developed by the SDE) for all applications submitted after 1-1-08.

With these changes, I think I would rate our charter school law in Oklahoma a solid B, up from a C. We can do more, but this is a significant step forward and should open the doors for improving public education in Tulsa.

The bill as passed should have taken away the "unconstitutional" allegation by the TPS school board. And perhaps the change in the flow of funding will invite others to move forward with plans to encourage and sponsor charter schools.

I tried to download the text of the bill signed by Governor Henry, but the downloaded file was corrupted. I will try later and if successful, will post that only another blog entry in the future.

Any of my fellow Tulsans or fellow Tulsa Bloggers out there ready to roll up your sleeves?

Do you support the creation of even one new charter school in Tulsa?


Steven H. Roemerman Sr said...

This is great news.

Anonymous said...

"The bill as passed should have taken away the "unconstitutional" allegation by the TPS school board."

So, a law which applied to a handful of districts that now applies to even fewer should take away the "unconstitutional" allegation? How do you reach this stunning conclusion?

If the purpose of the law is to provide choice for parents in districts where schools are underperforming, why doesn't the law apply statewide (as the constitution requires). It's because the "courageous" legislators wouldn't have supported ANY charter school bill if it applied to schools in theor districts.

Red Bug said...

The laws pertaining to charter schools in Oklahoma are still considered to be a test case. The assumption is that if they are successful in the test areas, the legislature will then consider expanding them to the rest of the state.