Recapping Oklahoma’s New Education Plan
Last month, the Oklahoma House passed the Parental Choice Act, HB 2775 and HB 1935. [HB 1935 passed 75-25. HB 2775 passed 78-20].
Governor Kevin Stitt states “After many conversations with parents, students, teachers, and legislators, I am emboldened by the prospect of delivering real education reform through the Parental Choice Act. By providing families with the option of a 100% refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 per child, we are building a foundation for funding students, not systems, in the state of Oklahoma.”
Designed to benefit every student, parent and teacher in the state, House Bill 2775, authored by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, includes a $500 million increase in funding for public schools throughout the state that will fund $2,500 pay raises for every teacher not designated as an administrator; $50 million to be distributed to schools receiving below-average funding from annual local tax revenue; and $300 million to be distributed to public school districts on a per-pupil basis.
House Bill 1935 creates the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act, which would allow a $5,000 annual tax credit for parents of eligible students that attend private schools and a $2,500 credit for homeschooled students. This education plan will set Oklahoma even with Florida and put Oklahoma just behind Texas in per pupil expenditure. Additionally, it will put the state ahead of Arkansas and Missouri and tied with Kansas for average teacher pay. Proponents of the Bill point out that the additional appropriated money benefits each Oklahoma pupil through the school funding formula…and that the money may be used only for:
· Increasing teacher and support staff salaries; · Programs related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) coursework; · Textbooks, curriculum and other instructional materials, including instruments or accessories for music or art courses, and technology for classrooms; · Increasing classroom capacity and additional institutional space for academic instructs if a school is at full capacity; · Fees for nationally standardized assessments; · Summer and specialized after-school education programs; · Student support services, including health and mental health; and · Tuition and fees for concurrent enrollment coursework at an institution within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education.
Proponents state the parent tax credits would include:
· Private school tuition and fee credits of $5,000 per dependent eligible student in each tax year; · Homeschool credits of $2,500 per dependent eligible student in each tax year for qualified expenses including tuition and fees for non-public online learning programs; tutoring services; and additional services or materials including classes, textbooks, curriculum or other instructional materials, and extracurricular activities and programs; and concurrent enrollment costs for courses at an Oklahoma higher education institution. · Credits would be retroactive to Jan 1, 2023, to allow individuals to claim the full credit this year.
I applaud the Republican Party for their boldness in architecting and advancing this Bill. More importantly, I agree every child deserves a quality education that best fits their unique needs, regardless of economic status, or background. I am hopeful the Parental Choice Act will help make that a reality in Oklahoma, unlocking the state’s full potential in becoming a Top Ten US State in education.
Final Thoughts: Parental Choice should be augmented by involved parents for student success. It’s best when there is a shared agreement and common goal among families, schools and the community. Parents should heed TOP STRATEGIES in this family-school partnership and be committed to help prepare their children for school readiness and stay on track surrounding their learning opportunities.
Ten Tips to Prepare Children for School Readiness:
Set up a daily family routine, including healthy eating and sleeping habits
Provide a place and time at home for homework
Check on assignments, homework and projects
Talk each day with your child about his/her activities
Promote literacy by reading to your child and by reading yourself
Limit and monitor TV watching, gaming, social media and computer time
Express high expectations and standards for your child’s learning
Attend parent-teacher conferences, Open House and Back-To-School events
Participate in decisions that affect your child’s education
Tap into community resources with visits to a library, museum, zoo or theater and encourage participation in after-school clubs, sports and art activities