Posted by on May 25, 2023 9:47 pm
Categories: News Washington Examiner

Kevin Stitt signs bill enacting Oklahoma universal school choice

Gov. Kevin Stitt, President Pro Tem Greg Treat and Speaker Charles McCall, along with other members from the House and Senate, hold a joint news conference to announce their historic education reform agreement in the Blue Room of the Oklahoma State Capitol, Monday, May 15, 2023. (Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman via AP) Doug Hoke/AP

Kevin Stitt signs bill enacting Oklahoma universal school choice

Jeremiah Poff May 25, 06:51 PMMay 25, 06:51 PM Video Embed

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-OK) signed legislation Thursday that adds Oklahoma to a growing list of states that have enacted universal school choice.

The governor signed a sweeping education reform bill that included a tax credit program that would provide families with scholarships to use at private schools. The bill also includes a $625 million expansion of public school funding and a teacher pay raise.


The bill’s signing capped a monthslong standoff with the state legislature over Stitt’s vow to enact school choice in the Sooner State. Earlier this month, Stitt negotiated a compromise with state lawmakers that became the basis for the legislation he signed at Thursday’s bill-signing ceremony.

“Regardless of ZIP code, we now have an opportunity for a parent to take their kid to any school that they want,” Stitt said. “You have a refundable tax credit to take your kid to a charter school, to a Christian school, to any private school, wherever you think your kid may be able to thrive. I remind people all the time: School choice should not just be for the rich or those that can afford it. Now, it’s available for every single family in the state of Oklahoma.”

Notably, due to the sizable increase in funding to public schools, the Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s teachers union, endorsed the legislation, calling it “a great step towards making public education a core value of Oklahoma.”

“We appreciate lawmakers for listening to the concerns of educators and parents by investing $625 million into public education, including a $3,000 to $6,000 raise for certified educators and six weeks of maternity leave,” Oklahoma Education Association President Katherine Bishop said earlier this month. “To keep and attract our best educators, it is imperative we not only compensate them as professionals but also treat them with dignity and respect.”

As for the school choice program, the bill creates a $155 million tax credit scholarship program that will increase to $255 million by 2026. The amount of funding per scholarship varies by family income.

A household earning less than $75,000 per year is eligible for $7,500 per student, an amount that gradually decreases by income bracket. The lowest scholarship award is $5,000 per student for families with a household income above $250,000.

Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at the American Federation for Children and a prominent school choice advocate, told the Washington Examiner that the legislation signed Thursday makes “Oklahoma a national leader on education freedom.”


“Gov. Kevin Stitt is an education freedom fighter. He has been an outspoken advocate of school choice and made it one of his top priorities to empower parents,” DeAngelis said. “While being a staunch supporter of school choice, Gov. Stitt handily won his 2022 reelection by about 14 points despite massive resistance from defenders of the status quo. All Republican governors should take note. School choice is the right thing to do, but it’s also a political winner.”

Florida, Arkansas, Utah, Iowa, and Indiana have all passed universal school choice programs during their 2023 legislative sessions. North Carolina is also poised to pass universal school choice over the objections of Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC).

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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