ACTION: PLEASE CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR ON THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE TO VOTE NO ON SB 560!
Bill: Senate Bill 560 by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman
What it would do: Create vouchers, also known as education scholarship accounts, that would divert taxpayer money away from public schools to pay for private education or homeschool costs for qualifying students.
When it will be heard: It will be heard at 9 a.m. Monday at the Senate Education Committee. See the full agenda here.
Summary: Under SB560, qualifying students will be eligible to receive a voucher for up to 90 percent of their state aid funding, which they would then be able to use to pay for private, virtual, homeschool or post-secondary tuition and other educational costs such as tutoring, curriculum, and field trips.
- Vouchers are a funding cut for public schools that educate 90 percent of Oklahoma children.
- Vouchers will allow children who have never/will never attend public schools to receive public money. That means EVERY Oklahoma school district will see funding reduced if this bill is enacted into law -- even if your district has no students who leave with a voucher.
- Vouchers lack accountability for taxpayer dollars and student achievement.
- Vouchers subsidize private school for wealthier families, as has happened in Arizona.
- Oklahoma already has school choice! More than 40,000 students transfer to another school district every year, more than 11,000 students transfer to different schools within their districts, and more than 80,000 of the state’s high school students choose classes available through the state’s career technology system.
- In 2015, Oklahoma lawmakers approved the statewide expansion of charter schools, opening the door for even more choice within the public school system.
- While the bill has eligibility restrictions based on county size and a cap on the number of new students added each year, there is no guarantee the restrictions would stay in place as it advances through the legislative process, or if ultimately approved, in future years.
- In other states with similar programs, lawmakers expanded the program in subsequent years and the cost to public schools is growing -- in some cases more than doubling the cost from one school year to the next. Some of those states are now questioning the growing cost and whether it's serving the neediest students.
- Similar programs in other states have been costly for public schools and have mostly provided vouchers for higher income families. Read more here and here.