Open transfers and the companion real-time funding mechanism, top priorities for The State Chamber, cleared the final hurdles in the House and Senate this week, and the governor signed both into law hours later.
House Bill 2078, authored by Rep. Kyle Hilbert and Sen. Zack Taylor, adjusts the state school funding formula by considering real-time enrollment, as opposed to the previous three years' enrollment rate. Senate Bill 783, by Sen. Adam Pugh and Rep. Brad Boles, allows for open transfer in public schools.
A significant number of students will receive educational opportunities through open transfer that they would not have otherwise gotten. When they do, the state funding designated for those students will go to the schools actually educating them, ending the continual dilution of the state's funding formula.
The State Chamber engaged because education is a business issue. Oklahoma's consistently poor education rankings and outcomes harm the state's ability to recruit businesses and weaken the workforce pipeline for businesses already here. More importantly, this is a matter of equity. A high-quality education is the surest ladder of opportunity for children to live the American dream. Access to these ladders should not be available to only those born into families with the means to buy a house in a "good " school district.
Despite historic funding increases and teacher pay raises in the last few years, Oklahoma's public education system still falls woefully short. Open transfer and funding students instead of systems are sensible, empowering reforms we hope are just the beginning of making Oklahoma a top education state.
The State Chamber stood up for Oklahoma parents and children by advocating for better public schools. Our mission is to ensure the voice of the business community is heard in the Capitol, and we are clearly succeeding.
These efforts have proven we can break the education monopoly that has kept Oklahoma's education system at the bottom. Parental choice leads to competition, which improves quality and makes schools more responsive to their customers - parents and students. After all, the purpose of the education system is to educate children and prepare them with skills to take them successfully into adulthood and a career path, not protect adults' jobs or funding streams.
The state Chamber hopes to build on these reforms in the future so we can have the workforce we need and every Oklahoma child has access to achieving their dreams.
Note: This article was first published in The Journal Record on April 2, 2021.