Oklahoma Adopts School Choice Measure with Bipartisan Support

Jun 09, 2010, 19:07 ET from Center for Education Reform

States Continue to Lead as Education Reform Pioneers

WASHINGTON, June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a win for Oklahoma families, Democratic Governor Brad Henry has signed into law a dramatic new school choice program. The measure will allow parents of children with special needs to use funds otherwise allocated for public education to pay for scholarships to send their children to private schools. Oklahoma now becomes the sixth state to adopt a school choice program empowering parents of children with special needs and the first state this year to adopt a bold new education reform program.

Up to 96,000 public school students in grades K-12 who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are eligible for the scholarships, which will be available beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. The new program - the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program - is named for Governor Henry's infant daughter, who died of Werdnig-Hoffman Disease.

"The bold and courageous lawmakers of Oklahoma are a model for other states," said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform. "They took their charge seriously - that they should develop programs that best meet the needs of their constituents. No child should be branded by their ZIP code. Children's needs should be first consideration in whatever school they attend, no matter what their resources allow."

Allen said that the passage of the wide-ranging Oklahoma program - which was signed by Henry, a Democrat, and championed by Tulsa-area State Representative Jabar Shumate - provides yet another indication that strong, innovative reform is, and always has been, a bipartisan cause that begins in state houses across the country.

The single most transformational education reform programs of our generation - from charter schools in Minnesota, to school choice in Milwaukee, to special needs vouchers in Florida, to tougher standards in a multitude of states - came not as a result of federal prodding, but because of strong state leadership," Allen said in urging other states to follow Oklahoma's example. "Oklahoma demonstrated that fact today. Sadly, the bean counters in Washington, D.C. will ignore this bold new program, which by its very nature is stronger and more substantive than anything passed this year in any state as a result of the federal $4.3 billion 'Race to the Top' program."

The Center for Education Reform drives the creation of better educational opportunities for all children.  CER changes laws, minds and cultures to allow good schools to flourish.

SOURCE Center for Education Reform