, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

February 28, 2013

Panel approves charter school overhaul bill

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma state senator pointed to Oklahoma charter schools' low national rankings and a lack of statewide standards Wednesday to convince the Senate Appropriations Committee that the state should take over the charters' authorization.

Sen. Clark Jolley, an Edmond Republican and the committee's chairman, told his colleagues the bill is meant to improve charter school quality by creating a statewide commission that would put potential schools through a "rigorous" authorization process. The committee approved the bill 16-4, sending it to the full Senate.

"What we want to make sure is you've got quality," Jolley said. "We want consistency — that's why we have one authorizer."

Charter schools, which are public schools run by sponsors such as colleges, school districts, tribes or other entities, can be more flexible in their day-to-day structure than traditional schools but still must meet state standards. Other than reporting to sponsors, however, charter schools currently have little or no state oversight, Education Department Chief of Staff Joel Robison told The Associated Press.

"We basically receive the information in from the district about the charters, and we verify that they've got the requirements," Robison said.

If approved, Jolley's bill would form a Public Charter School Commission that would authorize the state's charter schools and act separately from the Education Department. Jolley said Oklahoma's charter schools are ranked 34th out of the 43 states that allow them, and this commission would provide consistent standards statewide to bump up that number.

"All those folks can still start a charter or have a charter in their district if they would like, but it would go through a single authorizer that is analyzing and making sure everything is up to snuff," he said.

Committee members raised several concerns, including whether creating the commission would divert money from traditional schools or whether the Education Department should simply be given more oversight.

"I really do like the idea that we are strengthening the requirements and we're expecting more," Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said before voting against the bill. "I kind of get the feeling that we're doing this on the fly, and that worries me."

Responding to such concerns, Jolley said the bill would only help students.

"This is public dollars going to public schools," he said. "What we want are charters that are actually good charters."

Oklahoma has 19 charter schools with more than 12,000 students, almost 2 percent of the state's 673,000 public school students, according to the State Board of Education.


Text Only
Oklahoma News
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow

Should a federal judge have the power to strike down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage?

     View Results
Featured Ads

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.