Op-ed: Stop Nibbling Around the Edges of School Choice

Parent Power Index, a website comparing state policies based on how much power a parent has to get their child a good education, gives Oklahoma a C overall, but a D on school choice. We can do better.

Since last March, Tulsa and Oklahoma City public schools have barred their doors to the kids they are charged with educating, shirking the duty for which they were created, and depriving kids of the education they deserve. During that time, Epic Charter was the subject of a witch hunt by public education insiders and still saw its enrollment grow to the point where it serves more students than any traditional public school district in the state. Sixty-one percent of Oklahoma voters indicate they favor full school choice where the money follows the child – and 72 percent of Republicans support such a policy. There is a Republican supermajority in both houses and a governor who strongly supports school choice.

Yet to date, the most impactful school choice bills filed in the legislature still barely nibble around the edges. One bill would expand the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program to include military families. Two more bills would create similar programs for victims of bullying and children with medical hardships. These are all, like current Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship recipients, groups worthy of our time and attention. Finally, there is a bill to create a digital wallet program that allows grants to be given to students based on household income levels – low-income students get first crack at the grants, with the maximum income gradually increasing until the grants are gone.

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