Home > Uncategorized > Say NO to Vouchers. Rinse. Repeat.

Say NO to Vouchers. Rinse. Repeat.

February 16, 2015

Friday, CCOSA sent members the following legislative alert:

SENATE BILL 609 & HOUSE BILL 2003: VOUCHERS

There are two bills being considered on Monday by two separate legislative committees that have the potential of expanding VOUCHERS in Oklahoma.  Please contact members of both committees and your State Representative and State Senatorand ask that they vote NO on these bills!

SB 609 by Sen. Clark Jolley (R-Edmond) will be heard at 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, by the Senate Education Committee.

HB 2003 by Rep. Jason Nelson (R-OKC) will be heard at 3 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16 by the House Common Education Committee.

Both bills would create a voucher program and distribute state funds to parents via “Education Savings Accounts” or ESAs. ESAs would be funded based on a percentage of the student’s WADM.  Parents of eligible students would be able to use those funds to pay for personal tutors, homeschooling costs, online classes, sports team fees and many types of therapy, including horseback riding lessons for children with disabilities. They can also spend the money on private school tuition or save some of it for college.  ESAs currently exist in Arizona and Florida. In fact, Politico reports that one family from Florida “recently sought to use their child’s funds on and ‘educational vacation’ to Europe.”

Educators and parents should be concerned about this type of voucher program!

ESAs reduce the already limited amount of resources available to public schools and threaten to exacerbate the current teacher shortage!

ESAs do not have a built-in component to ensure that student participants are receiving rigorous or well-rounded educations!

ESAs would cause the OK SDE and/or State Treasurer to hire investigators and auditors to review and audit the private decisions of parents – allowing for government intrusion into private family matters!

ESAs are NOT revenue neutral – in both Florida and Arizona students were able to apply for ESAs even if they had never attended public schools in those states. This meant that both states ended up subsidizing private or home-based educations for children whose families previously covered those costs themselves/

Florida ESA costs as reported by Politico in Feb. 2015: $18.4 million

Arizona ESA costs as reported by Politico in Feb. 2015: $16.3 million

You can read more Education Savings Accounts at Politico.

These bills pretty much contain the same language as the voucher bill that died in committee (by a vote of 14-8) last February. The issue hasn’t changed. A few legislators want to take tax dollars to help a few families send their children to private schools. But wait, there’s more. Rob Miller tears the arguments in favor of vouchers to shreds in his post from yesterday, Education Savings Accounts: Facts, Myths, and Bovine Excrement!

Under bills filed by Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, much of the per-pupil funding used to educate a child could instead be deposited in an individual bank account. Parents would be given a debit card and allowed to use that account to customize their child’s education. The money could be used for a wide range of education options, including tutoring, online courses, private school and other services. Money left unspent could continue to accumulate and be used for future educational needs. (In other words, parents could get a portion of their child’s education funding on an ATM card to use for home schooling, online courses, or private school tuition in their sectarian school of choice.)

Many Oklahoma lawmakers say they support parental involvement in K-12 education(seriously, is there anyone saying they do not want parent involvement in schools). The bills by Nelson and Jolley provide an opportunity to back up that rhetoric with action.

Rob’s post is long and detailed, and very much worth reading.

Also worth reading is the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs position on school choice:

In case you can’t see the tweet from the OCPA think tank, it says, “The price for more funding #oklaed is tougher standards, genuine accountability and increased parental choice.” How does giving parents the education funding and the choice to do anything under the sun with it amount to genuine accountability? What standards will be in place for the use of the ESAs? Which parents chose A-F Report Cards, EOIs for graduation, a third-grade retention law, and every other reform nightmare of the last few years? I ask because as with the ESAs, none of these laws were hatched in Oklahoma. They are the product of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Oklahoman and OCPA are just the Oklahoma mouthpieces for this Koch-brothers hobby. It’s all double-speak.

As Dr. Jason James pointed out last night, most families couldn’t get their children into a private school with the voucher described in these bills:

Everything about these bills misleads the public. If you find yourself with some downtime today, given the weather conditions we’re facing, I encourage you to respectfully call your own legislator and state senator, as well as the members of these two committees. Remember that they represent you – not OCPA, not the Oklahoman, and not ALEC.

Senate Education Committee

Senator District Phone Email Twitter
Senator John Ford . Chair 29 405.521.5634 fordj@oksenate.gov
Senator Ron Sharp . Vice Chair 27 405.521.5539 sharp@oksenate.gov
Senator Josh Brecheen 6 405.521.5586 brecheen@oksenate.gov @brecheen4senate
Senator Earl Garrison 9 405.521.5533 garrisone@oksenate.gov @garrisondist9
Senator Jim Halligan 21 405.521.5572 halligan@oksenate.gov
Senator Clark Jolley 41 405.521.5622 jolley@oksenate.gov @ClarkJolley
Senator Susan Paddack 13 405.521.5541 paddack@oksenate.gov
Senator Marty Quinn 2 405.521.5555 quinn@oksenate.gov
Senator Wayne Shaw 3 405.521.5574 shaw@oksenate.gov
Senator Jason Smalley 28 405.521.5547 smalley@oksenate.gov @smalley101
Senator John Sparks 16 405.521.5553 sparks@oksenate.gov
Senator Gary Stanislawski 35 405.521.5624 stanislawski@oksenate.gov @SenStanislawski
Senator Roger Thompson 8 405.521.5588 thompson@oksenate.gov

 

House Common Education Committee

Representative District Phone Email Twitter
Rep. Ann Coody 64 405.557.7398 anncoody@okhouse.gov
Rep. Chad Caldwell 40 405.557.7317 chad.caldwell@okhouse.gov @chad4ok
Rep. Ed Cannady 15 405.557.7375 ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov
Rep. Dennis Casey 35 405.557.7344 dennis.casey@okhouse.gov
Rep. Donnie Condit 18 405.557.7376 donnie.condit@okhouse.gov @ConditDonnie
Rep. Dan Fisher 60 405.557.7311 dan.fisher@okhouse.gov @ElectDanFisher
Rep. Katie Henke 71 405.557.7361 katie.henke@okhouse.gov @KatieHenke
Rep. John Paul Jordan 43 405.557.7352 jp.jordan@okhouse.gov
Rep. Sally Kern 84 405.557.7348 sallykern@okhouse.gov @SallyKern
Rep. Jeannie McDaniel 78 405.557.7334 jeanniemcdaniel@okhouse.gov @JeannieMcDani14
Rep. Michael Rogers 98 405.557.7362 michael.rogers@okhouse.gov @rogersmichael21
Rep. Jason Nelson 87 405.557.7335 jason.nelson@okhouse.gov @jasonnelsonok
Rep. Jadine Nollan 66 405.557.7390 jadine.nollan@okhouse.gov
Rep. Shane Stone 89 405.557.7397 shane.stone@okhouse.gov
Rep. Chuck Strohm 69 405.557.7331 chuck.strohm@okhouse.gov
Rep. Todd Thomsen 25 405.557.7336 todd.thomsen@okhouse.gov @ToddThomsen
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