Tuesday, May 14, 2013

House Sends School Empowerment Bill to Governor


Legislation creating a process for the deregulation of schools headed to the governor’s desk will empower educators and students and end needless state interference, state Rep. Jeff Hickman said today.
“Oklahoma’s teachers and school administrators are capable of educating students without endless red tape from politicians at the State Capitol,” said Hickman, R-Fairview and House author of the bill. “For years, educators have shared their frustration with mandates sent down to them from Oklahoma City. If signed into law, this legislation will give educators more flexibility in how they serve their students.”
House Bill 2131 allows school districts to choose to opt out of most of the same mandates from which charter schools are exempt. Those decisions would be made at the local level to better address community needs and give districts increased resource flexibility.
“I believe our students will thrive if we create a better education environment by encouraging innovation and freedom,” said Hickman. “It doesn’t make sense to maintain an outdated education model. We have said for years we need more local control of our schools, and this legislation gives schools that control.”
Many standards are kept in place in the bill, including the minimum salary schedule, participation in the Teacher’s Retirement System, use of the state health insurance plan, background checks for teachers, teacher evaluations, teacher certifications, administrator certification, school board training and graduation requirements.
The legislation requires school districts to apply for exemption from mandates, which would be subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, Hickman said. It also pushes the district transfer deadline back from April 1 to the first Monday in June, so parents have more time to apply for a transfer, if desired.
“I appreciate the bipartisan support for this legislation which gives school districts the opportunity to be exempted from some state mandates that don't make sense for their school system and which gives more local control to the school boards, administrators, teachers and parents in the operation of their schools,” Hickman said. 

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