Parent empowerment legislation

Updated: All parents of Oklahoma students would be empowered to pursue the best educational setting that fits the individual needs of their child under legislation filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat.

“Every child deserves the chance for a quality education that fits their unique needs, regardless of their zip code. We’ve already empowered the parents of children with disabilities with this opportunity through the very successful Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program. It’s time we give all parents and all student in Oklahoma that same opportunity for success,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City in a press release this morning.

OCPA and other citizen driven organizations are praising the bill as well.

Treat said Senate Bill 1647, also known as the Oklahoma Empowerment Act, creates Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts which allow parents to use their child’s state education dollars to pursue a variety of educational opportunities, all to secure the best education possible for their children.

“A quality education is essential to each child’s success, and the overall success and growth of our state. No child should be trapped in a failing school or a school that cannot meet their unique educational needs simply because of where his or her home is located. Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts will bring generational change to families across Oklahoma by giving all parents the freedom to do what’s best for their child,” Treat said.

Larry Parman, chairman of the board of trustees for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, issued the following statement today in response to Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat filing Senate Bill 1647, which creates Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts (OEAs).

For Oklahoma to become a state of true opportunity for all, we must provide a quality education to every child. But that can only happen when parents are able to choose from a range of options based on their child’s unique needs. In contrast, the one-size-fits-all approach of the current education system in Oklahoma leaves too many children behind.

“Those of us on the OCPA board are civic leaders, business owners, and most of all parents and grandparents. We know there is no issue more important to families and Oklahoma’s future progress than improving our state’s education outcomes. By fighting to maximize educational opportunity for all Oklahoma families, Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat has taken a bold stand for families that deserves applause from all Oklahomans.”

American Federation for Children Oklahoma Senior Advisor Jennifer Carter today said “The COVID-era has made it obvious that our system of public education is not responsive to parental needs or input, even on matters as important as school closures, virtual learning, and curricula. All across the country, parents are fighting back and demanding more control over how their kids are being taught, who is teaching them, and what they are learning.

“The creation of Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts will ensure that all parents have real options for their children when it comes to education. That, in turn, will force schools to listen to parents and to ensure they are meeting the needs of the families they are supposed to serve, rather than simply ignoring them at the behest of unions and special interests. Our thanks go out to Pro Tem Treat for his support of parental rights and education freedom. We are excited to help make his bold vision a new reality for Oklahoma parents and families.” – Jennifer Carter, senior advisor, AFC-Oklahoma

ChoiceMatters, Parent Voice Oklahoma join in support

ChoiceMatters, an Oklahoma non-profit dedicated to increasing education options for parents, today praised Oklahoma State Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat for filing SB 1647, the Oklahoma Empowerment Act. The bill proposes giving parents control over a portion of their children’s education tax dollars, in the form of Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts. The accounts would be eligible to fund private school tuition or to supplement home schooling with approved technology expenses, enrichment materials or other educational services.  

“The biggest barrier to education freedom is income,” said ChoiceMatters Executive Director Robert Ruiz. “High income parents can choose the school that is right for their children, either by moving to the zip codes with the best public schools, by sending their children to private school, or by supplementing their children’s education with tutoring and other resources. We believe that parents of every income level in every zip code should be able to make these same choices and offer their children these same opportunities.

“Pro Tem Treat has put forward a bold vision to give every Oklahoma parent the freedom and the ability to find the best education possible for their children,” continued Ruiz. “We encourage his colleagues in both the Senate and the House to stand with parents and support this proposal.”

Jennifer Johnson, a Skiatook mother who helped start Parent Voice Oklahoma, an advocacy organization supporting efforts that include parent empowerment, school choice and educational freedom, also praised the proposed legislation.

“Parents have realized that the balance of power in public education has tilted towards unelected bureaucrats and top-down control,” said Johnson. “Putting parents in charge of their own education tax dollars puts them back in the driver’s seat where they belong. This is the ultimate form of local control and parent empowerment. Thank you, Senator Treat, for giving parents a voice in our kids’ education.”

ChoiceMatters is hosting Education Expos in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City as part of National School Choice Week (Jan 23-Jan 29). The Tulsa event takes place on January 25 at the Tulsa Marriott Southern Hills and the Oklahoma City event takes place on January 27th at the Oklahoma City Convention Center; both run from 5 pm to 8 pm.

The events are free and open to the public and offer parents information about dozens of Oklahoma schools, resources regarding scholarships and financial assistance for education, and showcases and demonstrations from local schools and students.

Tulsa Education Expo:

•  Jan 25th

•  5-8 pm

•  Tulsa Marriott Southern Hills: 1902 E 71st St, Tulsa, OK 74136

Oklahoma City Education Expo:

•  Jan 27th

•  5-8 pm

•  OKC Convention Center: 100 Mick Cornett Dr, Oklahoma City, OK 73109

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