Oklahoma Senate passes 'parent trigger' bill on low-performing schools
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Thursday, March 07, 2013
3/07/13 at 8:12 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday passed an Oklahoma version of what has been described as the "parent trigger."
Under Senate Bill 1001, if a school obtains a D or F for at least two years on the state's A-F rating system, 51 percent of the parents could sign a petition to transition it to a charter school, said Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, the author.
Administrators in school districts with at least 5,000 students in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties could be fired under the measure, Holt said.
Holt said the measure would give parents another tool to address poor performing schools.
"If they want representation, they can go through the democratic process and elect a school board," said Sen. Tom Ivester, D-Sayre. "If they don't like them, then they need to not re-elect them."
Ivester said the measure is based on the false assumption that charter schools are better than regular public schools.
"They are not," Ivester said. "They are statistically right in line with public schools."
Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Forest Park, said that in recent years lawmakers have passed reform after reform.
"We haven't given them any opportunity to work," Johnson said.
The measure passed by a vote of 30-12 and heads to the House.
Another education measure, Senate Bill 226, by Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, passed by a vote of 35-9. It would allow students who cannot pass four out of seven-end-of instruction exams required for graduation to re-enroll, receive remediation and retake the exams.
Critics say the requirement to pass the exams to graduate unfairly penalizes students who otherwise completed the courses satisfactorily.
"Each district can approach it however is best for them," Ford said.
Holt's Senate Bill 550 also passed and heads to the House.
Senate Bill 550 would legalize "Black Friday" and other low-price sales. Critics said the measure would allow larger conglomerates to undercut small businesses and could put the small entrepreneur out of business.
Holt said the measure is good for consumers, who will get better prices.
The Senate also passed a measure that would let voters decide if the governor should appoint the labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and state superintendent. If approved, the appointments would be subject to Senate confirmation.
"This is not good government when too much power is given to any governor," said Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant. "I don't care what party. I don't care who the person is."
Senate Bill 598, by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, passed by a vote of 26-15 and heads to the House.
"The governor should have the authority to hire and fire people to run these agencies, and be held accountable for their performance or non- performance," Treat said. "That is what this proposal would accomplish."
The Senate also passed a measure that would tax electronic cigarettes and prohibit minors from purchasing them. Senate Bill 802, by Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon, would add a 5-cent tax per device on top of the sales tax.
The measure passed by a vote of 26-15 and heads to the House.
Original Print Headline: 'Parent trigger' bill passes on schools
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465