Public School Choice
In Oklahoma, the state has two limited open enrollment policies: intra-district and inter-district open enrollment. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school within their neighborhood school district or in any alternative district in the state. The Center for Education Reform reports that Oklahoma has an average charter school law. Nearly 6,000 students attended the state’s 17 public charter schools in 2010.
Private School Choice
As of 2011, Oklahoma offers private school vouchers to low-income students via a tax-credit scholarship program. The program provides tax credits to individuals and businesses that contribute to scholarship-granting organizations. Additionally, in 2010, Oklahoma enacted private school choice for special-needs students. The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program provides vouchers to families in the amount that it would cost to educate a child in a public school or a private school of choice, whichever is less.
According to the Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning report, Oklahoma does not have a state-led online program. However, two online distance-learning programs are sponsored by state universities: the University of Oklahoma Independent Learning High School, which is a diploma-granting program, and the Oklahoma State University K-12 Distance Learning Academy, which is a supplemental program. In addition, the state has opened three full-time online charter schools since 2010: the Oklahoma Virtual High School, the Oklahoma Virtual Academy, and as of fall 2011, the Oklahoma Connections Academy. During the 2010-2011 school year, 4, 456 students were enrolled in either full-time or part-time online learning programs.
In 2011, Oklahoma passed legislation to provide scholarships for low-income students via a new tax-credit scholarship program. The program provides tax credits to individuals and businesses that contribute to scholarship-granting organizations.
Open enrollment allows students to attend a public school district other than their district of residence. Students who are deaf or hearing impaired may apply to transfer at any time during the school year to a school with a specialized deaf education program. The Oklahoma law states that each district must develop a policy of standards for acceptance of nonresident pupils which may include capacity. Athletic ability (in addition to academic ability, other extracurricular ability, or disability) may not be used as admissions criteria. Nonresident students are not eligible for extramural athletic competition for one year following transfer.
What it really means
According to the School Choice - Oklahoma State Department of Education Toolkit FAQ’S:
1. What are Public School Choice options for parents?
Public School Choice is the opportunity for eligible families to select another public school in the district for their children to attend. Public School Choice is offered to parents whose children are attending a school in the first or second year of School Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring. Parents must be offered this option no later than the first day of the school year.
2. Which children qualify for School Choice?
All students in a Title I school in School Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring are eligible to participate. In providing students the option to transfer to another public school, the district will give priority for transportation to the lowest achieving eligible children from low-income families in cases where there are insufficient funds to serve all the students whose parents request these services. However, all eligible students who request transfers should be allowed to transfer.
3. How do parents know if a school is offering School Choice options?
When a school is identified as a school in the first or second year of School Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring, the district or school will notify parents of their Public School Choice options. Parents may send their child to another public school in the district that is currently making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
4. What is the cost of School Choice?
School Choice transportation is provided at no cost to the parents.
Title I school in School Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring
Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring are ranked based on students scoring proficient or advanced on state reading and mathematics assessments, all Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring were ranked based on the percent of students scoring Proficient or Advanced for five years on the state reading and mathematics assessments used for AYP determinations. These percents included all FAY (Full Academic Year) students who took tests administered through the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests, Oklahoma Modified Alternative Assessment Program, and the Oklahoma Alternative Assessment Program.
Parents can determine if their child's school is a "Title I school" by searching the Public Schools database supplied by the National Center for Education Statistics.
To find information about the Title I status of your child's school:
1. Visit the National Center for Education Statistics search page.
2. Enter the school name in the "name" field.
3. Click "Public Schools" under "Institutions."
4. Click "Search."
5. Click on the School name in the search results.
6. Click on "More information" at the top of the school data page.
7. The school's Title I status is listed in the "School Characteristics" section of the page.
Oklahoma has a limited school choice program. Only students in a Title I school in School Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring are eligible to participate. This means you may have to keep your child in a school that under-performs for a number of years before they are eligible for a transfer.
A “money follows the child” system would in effect make the public schools for K-12 like universities in which they would have to compete for funding. The better the schools perform the more parents would want their children there. This plan will cut across all income ranges in which the funding that would have been in a local lower performing school would allow the parent to send the child to a higher performing school. Schools and teachers would be accountable to provide better education for all children regardless of location. Schools that fail to provide a good education would fail and possibly close. This would provide quite the incentive to provide an excellent atmosphere for learning and growth of our children.
The NEA states in their case against vouchers "True equity means the ability for every child to attend a good school in the neighborhood." If the neighborhood school has to perform well to compete then every child can attend a good school in their neighborhood.
The opposition claims it will cause public schools to close. In truth it will be an incentive for the public schools to exceed the performance of private schools in order to succeed. The funds could be limited to various public and charter schools rather than private ones. We all want our children to have the best education possible be it in a public or private institution. In order to make it happen we the people must make it happen.