Appearing before dozens of children who will benefit from policy changes approved this year, Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislators declared 2021 the “Year of Oklahoma’s Education Turnaround” during a press conference.
“When the legislative session began, we crafted policies to give you the best chance to get the best education, because we knew that education was not a one-size-fits-all,” Stitt said to the assembled students, who represented a variety of schools, income levels, and racial backgrounds. “You and your parents should have the freedom to attend the best school for you, regardless of your ZIP code or where you live. And wherever you go, the money should follow you. In Oklahoma, we fund students, not systems. There’s 700,000 students in the state of Oklahoma, kids school-age. We want to make sure we give you the student the opportunity that you need to get the best education for your future.”
Officials highlighted several measures that became law this year, including expansion of the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program, which helps children attend private schools by providing tax credits for donations to scholarship-granting organizations; new funding for public charter schools’ facility needs; funding changes that ensure money follows a child more quickly to the school they currently attend; a record appropriation of $3.2 billion for K-12 education; increased open-transfer opportunities so children can choose from among public-school districts; and legislation banning instruction that tells children there is a superior race or gender.
“The Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act will be the most transformative thing we’ve done in my time in the Capitol,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.