Standridge and Vouchers
State Senator Rob Standridge will say or do just about anything to pass a voucher bill at this point. This week, he has sent his colleagues an 18 page backup document that includes letters of support for SB 560. Here are some highlights. First is from his letter:
Coming from an area of the state dominated by the left and those that think school choice should not be allowed for anyone, even for the poor kids of the inner city this legislation targets, I understand that this legislation is not easy.
This is a tremendous starting point. Standridge is from Norman, which now is apparently dominated by the left. Never mind that he won re-election in November facing an independent candidate and no Democrat. Facts really have no place here.
I have heard some say that if we could just spend more money in the failing schools in Oklahoma and Tulsa county that things would just turn around. I certainly support funding public education better, and as it is a condition of this legislation, giving our teachers a raise. But certainly we are not sure what level of funding will turn around our inner city schools which are failing, and if you look to the funding of inner city schools in Washington, DC…is there really an amount that will fix inner city schools and should we continue to wait for that to happen while kids pay the real price?
So is Standridge saying ALL inner city schools in the state’s two largest counties are failing? If so, then why is he pushing so hard for Cleveland County, where his children attend private schools, to get vouchers too?
And why doesn’t he want any accountability in the private schools that will educate the voucher students they will accept? If test scores are how he knows that inner city schools are failing him, then why won’t we be giving state tests to the students who take their vouchers and go private?
Believe me, I completely understand that OEA, CCOSA, and other left leaning organizations have convinced educators that school choice is a bad thing…
Skipping over the fact that Standridge believes all education organizations (except the ones who write bills for Senator Brecheen and a few other colleagues) are left leaning, he also makes the argument that educators are incapable of thinking for themselves. The OEA and CCOSA are bad, and they have convinced these weak minded people that choice is bad. But I want to give them raises. I really do!
Similar to the Civil Rights movement many decades ago led by Republicans, championed by Republicans, but lost to the media as an effort from the left…
Stop. Just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself, Rob.
I would reiterate that the goal line for SB 560 is a thousand yards away, and possibly even years away, but please help me move this ball down the field so that, hopefully, we can provide opportunity for that young 9th grade boy or girl that without this scholarship life may pass them by.
Yes, this bill merely chips away at the edges of what Standridge and the other signers of letters in this packet really want: universal school choice.
Again, let me say that I’m not against school choice. Thousands of students in Oklahoma attend public schools in a different zip code from their residence. Some of our legislators, past and present, have enjoyed public school choice. We have charters. We have virtual school.
We. Have. School. Choice. Right. Now.
We just don’t have vouchers.
I spoke today with one superintendent who says that Standridge recently told him, They’re coming. Why not control the model? Or maybe I’m one of those gullible educators that the senator thinks will believe anything.
It’s also worth noting that Standridge has worked over the rural caucus promising them that vouchers to the state’s three most populous counties won’t hurt school funding for the rest of them. On the other hand, I’ve heard Standridge talk about the need to consolidate rural districts. That’s the same guy. Is he really looking out for your schools?
Senate Bill 560 would subsidize the private school tuition of more than 36,000 students in those three counties. Adding to the number of students currently served depletes funding for the rest of the districts. This would take money from 74 counties to subsidize the biggest three.
But it moves the ball incrementally down the field.
That’s not all. We also have support documentation from key allies. I won’t list them all, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide a brief excerpt from David Barton and his fact-challenged Wallbuilders organization:
Nearly three-fourths of [Texas] citizens say they are not getting their money’s worth for what we are spending in education, and sixty-eight percent now want school choice, even in rural areas…I assume it is the same in Oklahoma.
…In Texas, there is a very aggressive push to increase salaries for educators, and our legislators are sympathetic to these demands. But at the same time, we cannot reward teachers or systems that underperform.
The playbook, if we are to extend the sports metaphor, is strongly anti-public education. And it’s nationwide.
To be clear, though, a voucher won’t provide a student with a meal or transportation. It won’t guarantee access to school choice. And it won’t have any fiscal or academic accountability.
Please contact your senators and ask for a no vote on SB 560 tomorrow.