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Interim Studies

July 17, 2012

Even though the legislature has adjourned for the year, several interim studies will be done by our elected leaders to help chart the course for future bills. This is an annual occurrence, usually not amounting to much in terms of substance. However, with 2012 being an election year, we can expect for some of the studies to involve an element of playing to the base, rather than doing any actual legislating. This year, there are eleven studies relevant to common education on the House side, and four more on the Senate side.

House Interim Studies

  • 12-010 – Special Education
  • 12-011 – Native American Education
  • 12-013 – Performance Pay
  • 12-015 – Common Education – Funding
  • 12-016 – Common Education – Testing
  • 12-019 – National Board Certified Teachers
  • 12-024 – School Redistricting
  • 12-036 – Educational Administrative Efficiencies
  • 12-056 – Class Size
  • 12-063 – Student Rights to Privacy and Education Reform
  • 12-066 – Bridge to Literacy

Senate Interim Studies

  • 12-5 – Study school funding formulas.
  • 12-21 – Joint House/Senate study on facility funding for charter schools.
  • 12-25 – Study on creating administrative efficiencies and streamlining costs for schools with the goal of putting more money in the classroom.
  • 12-27 – Study of all sources of funding for Oklahoma common education and develop comparisons to other states.

I find it interesting that the House and Senate display the information differently. For example, you can download explanatory comments on the House studies. Study 12-010 is “A study of special education – solutions for the shortage of teachers, educational preparation for teachers (requirements for teachers).” I don’t really get a lot from that, but it’s more informative than the Senate studies, which only tell you as much as you see above.

Just looking at the two lists, I see that how we as a state pay for schools is a common them, as is a renewed interest in efficiency (unicameral legislature, anyone?). I think the charter school facility funding issue could get tricky, since Oklahoma is one of only eight states that do not provide facility funding for schools at the state level anyway.

Representative Sally Kern’s study on privacy could be worth a look too. The explanatory comments on the scope of the study say:

“The right for public school students to maintain privacy of their education records is protected by federal FERPA laws. Recent changes in these laws combined with Oklahoma’s effort to create a Statewide Longitudinal Database for public school students ages Kindergarten to age 20, can pose serious risks to the privacy of student records.”

My first thought is who needs a data system to violate FERPA? That’s what State Board of Education meetings are for. Seriously though, the way Rep. Kern is known for grandstanding and last year tried to get Oklahoma to pull out of Common Core, there’s no telling where this will go.

As these topics are studied, I’ll keep an eye out for updates. When reports are posted to the legislature’s website, I’ll add my own thoughts.

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  1. July 18, 2012 at 9:55 am

    The danger inherent in these interim studies – in conjunction w/others listed above – is scary:
    >12-015 Rep. Casey; Common Education – Funding;
    To study and understand the implications of per pupil funding as it relates to a better educated workforce in the State of Oklahoma. Specific comparisons of Oklahoma per pupil funding shall be made to Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida and Massachusetts.
    >12-5 Sen. Fields; Study school funding formulas.12-27 Sens. Ford/Halligan; Study all sources of funding for Oklahoma common education and develop comparisons to other states.<

    These are not scary that they are studying public school funding but that they are studying it for purposes of campaign messaging and, probably, to set up major changes next legislative session that will further the corporate reform agenda in our state (like in Florida, for example).
    Because the Legislature has never fully funded the state aid formula in place now, it's not likely that they would fully fund a new one. In addition, the clamoring of special interests for priority would be a major obstacle to actually coming up with a better way to fund schools. Think what a fiasco an Oklahoma "Constitutional Convention" would be.
    I hope that someone is analyzing data on re: 12-015 now. …

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