Breaking: Oklahoma Republicans Celebrate The Passage Of Two “Revolutionary” School Choice Bills In The House – “Every Kid Wins”

Speaker of the Oklahoma House Charles McCall, R-Atoka, speaks at a news conference to announce a deal to shore up the state budget and raise pay for teachers and some state workers with a series of tax increases during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, but it’s unclear if there is enough support to pass the plan. Gov. Mary Fallin and members of the legislature are at left. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Republicans in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives have passed two school choice bills. House Speaker Charles McCall said that these bills have the potential to transform the way education is run in the state and says that it will make sure “every kid wins in the state of Oklahoma.”

“It doesn’t matter where the parent decides to take them to school, we’re increasing our funding for parents to go to private schools, for parents to educate by alternative means, as well as public school,” the Republican speaker told Fox News Digital. 

“It’s pretty transformational for the state of Oklahoma. It is the first time that we’ve offered a path to help families with private school tuition and grant some relief also for parents that choose to homeschool.”

The bills passed in the House would give parents a tax credit for up to $5,000 per child that opts to attend private school. It would give a $2,500 credit for students educated by means like homeschooling.

The bills also include a $500 million increase in funding for public schools throughout the state that will also fund $2,500 minimum pay raises for every teacher not designated as an administrator. It would give $50 million to schools receiving below-average funding from annual local tax revenue and $300 million to be distributed to public school districts on a per-pupil basis.

The measures are now moving to the state Senate where Republicans believe they can pass them. 

Fox News shared:

The first bill that offers tax credits also includes a provision allowing parents to request an advance on the tax credit to help pay for the upcoming semester. This bill passed the House on Wednesday in a 75-25 vote.

The second bill outlines how the appropriated monies can be spent, including on teacher and support staff raises, STEM programs, instructional materials, fees for nationally standardized assessments, summer education programs, after-school programs, student support services, or tuition and fees for concurrent enrollment. It passed 78-20.

The office of Speaker McCall says that private school choice has been difficult to navigate in Oklahoma so far, and is looking at the passage of these bills as a possible blueprint for other states who are attempting to legislate similar school voucher measures.

We revere education very highly in this state,’ McCall said. “We yield to our constituents’ preferences and their desires… but it’s always about… how can you craft something that… helps parents achieve what they want to achieve?”

“It’s parental choice to us. It’s not school choice,” McCall added.

McCall said in his nearly 11 legislative sessions, ratted bills like charter school authorizations and scholarship fund increases have succeeded, but this is the first time a tax credit for private school and alternative education has been successful.

“The one piece we’ve never been able to advance in the 10 years that I’ve been in the legislature, and this is my 11th session, is a mechanism for private schools, if a parent elects to educate through private school,” McCall said.

McCall said the challenge was to “find a way to help every kid in the state and address the education challenges and opportunities in rural Oklahoma, suburban Oklahoma, in urban Oklahoma. And we could all find support with a tax credit.”

“Just leaving more money with the citizens of the state that elect to go to private school,” he said. “Give them an opportunity just to keep their own money… let’s take away the double taxation where we normally tax their income and appropriate it to public education. Just let them keep it and use it.”

McCall said these bills are a win for everyone.

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