There is a saying around the Oklahoma Capitol that goes, “Thank God for Mississippi.” It’s because if there were no Mississippi, Oklahoma would be dead last in a whole bunch of categories that we don’t want to be last in – education, namely. But with the introduction of Senate Bill 1187 by State Senators Josh Brecheen and Clark Jolley, Mississippi will soon be saying, “Thank God for Oklahoma!”
Here is the purpose of SB1187:
There is hereby established the School District Empowerment Program which shall be administered by the State Board of Education. The purpose of the program is to empower locally elected school board members to govern school districts and make decisions based on the needs of their students and circumstances.
I understand some people hate Common Core/ No Child Left Behind and other programs handed down from the federal government, but having a standard of education across the nation is actually a good thing. Sometimes people move, and if you move to or from Oklahoma, your child should be able to be at the same standard of the school they are going to/from, right? Having a problem with the programs is fine, but our country and our state should have a standard of education, and it should be high.
Just kidding. Our schools are broke and have no money, and we treat teachers like crap. We suck. Don’t move here. Our Governor wants to flunk all the 4th graders.
Here is some more from the bill:
Subject to the provisions of this section, a school district shall be allowed to submit a request to the State Board of Education for an exemption from all statutory requirements and State Board of Education rules from which charter schools are exempt, as provided for in the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act.
Awesome, so any publicly funded school can just ask to be exempt from the statutory requirements and board of education rules? That sounds great! Especially when you consider that if a local school board wanted to exclude itself from the rules and regulations of the board of education, they wouldn’t be required to do some of the following things: Have a minimum salary for teachers, offer a retirement plan, provide insurance, entitle children of the district to attend the school, do criminal background checks on employees, evaluate teacher performance, or have standards to complete curriculum requirements.
Seriously, check out this write up at The Daily Kos, and kudos for them for beating me to this:
Senators Jolley and Brecheen changed much of the key language in SB 1187, which just passed out of the Senate Education Committee. SB 1187 allows school districts to request an exemption from the State Board of Education from all statutory requirements and State Board of Education rules of which charter schools are currently exempt. The following may result from the passage of this bill:
Elimination of the teacher’s minimum salary schedule.
Elimination of the requirement for school districts to participate in the Oklahoma Teacher’s Retirement System (OTRS).
Elimination of school district provided health insurance.
Elimination of criminal background checks on school employees.
Elimination of teacher evaluation and due process protections.
Elimination of payroll deduction.
Elimination of due process protections for support staff.
Elimination of all certification requirements for all school district positions.
Elimination of negotiations between a school district and employees.
Elimination of student curriculum requirements.
Elimination of required continuing education for local board of education members.
I thought when Senator Jolley created his awesome beer bill, that maybe he turned a corner. I was willing to overlook the fact that he has taken money from the Koch Brothers, and had ethics complaints filed against him, but I guess I was wrong. And as for Senator Josh Brecheen… well, he’s always been a Disco Biscuit. If these guys have their way, Oklahoma will be on the path that current Oklahoma GOP chair Pam Pollard envisioned on Facebook a few years ago:
Having our kids be “kingdom ready” is very important, because as Jesus said, “Be kingdom ready or suck on deez nuts.”
Side note: It’s been a while, gentle readers (does Marisa still do that?), and a lot has happened since I last posted on TLO. I had a comedy CD come out, which is on iTunes (please buy it, my kid has diabetes)! And I still help Patrick host trivia. Follow me on Twitter or come say “hey” at the Speakeasy and/or Pink Parrot!