Educators voice support for school-choice bill

Legislation that would expand an existing tax-credit program and encourage more donations to public schools and scholarship-granting organizations is drawing opposition from establishment “education” groups, such as teachers’ unions and their allies.

But the bill is quietly receiving support from many Oklahomans who work on the front lines in schools who have seen the real-world challenges facing children and those who serve them.

In a recent Facebook post, Rep. Sherrie Conley, a longtime teacher who worked in a variety of schools around Oklahoma, announced her support for House Bill 2701.

While Conley said most families in her district are happy with their local schools, she said she is “concerned about the kids and families who live in and attend some of the toughest schools in the inner cities. I’ve been in a few of those schools.”

“It angers me, saddens me and makes me feel helpless to be unable to change the circumstances for each and every child and the parents who just want something better for their babies than what they have had,” wrote Conley, R-Newcastle. “Some, if not most of those parents are stuck where they are due to poverty, community and/or familial ties.”

HB 2701 creates the Education and Investment for Oklahoma Act. It modifies an existing tax-credit program and raises the amount of tax credits that can be issued under that program.

Under HB 2701, those who donate to public schools or to private scholarship-granting organizations qualify for tax credits. Schools and scholarship organizations would receive up to $2 in new funding for every $1 in tax credits issued under the bill.

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