'The Greatest Civil Right We Could Offer'

"Legislation making it possible for cities and universities to sponsor charter schools in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties narrowly passed the House on Friday," The Oklahoman's Jennifer Mock reports today.
Charter schools are public, tuition-free schools that are accountable to a contract with a sponsor. They are operated by parents, teachers and community members, usually offering a specialized curriculum. ...

Rep. Tad Jones, R-Claremore, says he hopes school boards will begin to accept the growing trend of charter schools. The specialized schools have to meet the same standards of other public schools, but have more flexibility to teach toward individual students' needs, Jones said.

If a charter school is unable to bring up test scores, the sponsor can close the school.

Meanwhile, low-performing public schools can continue to operate without much improvement.

"If a charter school fails, it disappears,” he said.

"Now there is accountability; you have to perform or you aren't going to exist.”

Wealthy Oklahomans have the choice to send their children to top-notch private schools, but low-income students often are stuck in low-performing schools without any alternatives.

Rep. Jabar Shumate [pictured here], the author of the bill, said all children should have the opportunity to receive a quality education.

"If the public schools were doing their jobs, charter schools wouldn't be needed,” said Shumate, D-Tulsa.

"When you don't offer communities good schools, you see those communities die. (Education is) the greatest civil right we could offer any child in this country.”

Cliff Hudson, Oklahoma City Public Schools board chairman, said the legislation will undermine traditional public schools and the renovations done under the MAPS for Kids project.
Ironically, Hudson is one of those "wealthy Oklahomans" referenced above who did in fact send his own children to private schools.

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