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Politics and Government

While fate of school voucher bill awaits, Oklahoma lawmakers advance flurry of education measures

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State of Oklahoma
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Last week, Oklahoma state senators braced for a debate on a school voucher bill that never came. Despite that, lawmakers did pass a litany of education bills through their chambers of origin.

A school voucher bill made a late appearance on the Senate floor agenda for Thursday, but the measure never came up.

Senate Bill 1647, would give thousands of dollars to private school students to spend on an array of educational programs, including private school tuition, tutors or other education services.

The controversial bill passed narrowly out of two Senate committees. It could come up on the floor at any time, though the senate will have a short week because of Spring Break. It’s sponsored by Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat and has the endorsement of Gov. Kevin Stitt.

However, House Speaker Charles McCall has told reporters that the measure is dead on arrival if it crosses over to his chamber.

But while that bill got the attention of advocates and legislative observers, lawmakers passed a flurry of other bills in their chamber of origin.

The House passed these education bills, which now go to the Senate for consideration:

  • HB 3645 updates attendance requirements for virtual charter school students. Attendance counting has been an issue for charters in the past as they’ve dealt with so-called “ghost students.”
  • HB 3092 requires school libraries to reflect “community standards” when selecting materials.
  • HB 3351 allows parents to receive a $1,000 tax credit for donating money directly to their child’s teacher. The tax credit maxes out at $5 million. 

Senators passed these bills, which now go to the House:

  • SB 1623 requires schools to offer students credit for “extended learning” opportunities outside of a classroom. Extended learning includes out-of-classroom experiences like apprenticeships or internships, per the act.
  • SB 1429 exempts a teaching candidate with a masters or doctoral degree from the  general education portion of the competency examination.
  • SB 1733 exempts university foundations from open records requests.

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