Editor’s note: This commentary from Frank Keating, governor of Oklahoma from 1995-2003, and Bill Price, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, appeared Sunday on oklahoman.com.
One of the most important legislative debates underway this year is whether Oklahoma will fund students, not systems or buildings, as embodied by the language of Senate Bill 1647.
For us, the answer is simple: Oklahoma government should fund students. This legislation has the power to change the lives of thousands of parents and children in Oklahoma by giving them alternatives to schools that do not meet their needs.
The program enables innovative schools such as Cristo Rey to serve more lower-income kids and Positive Tomorrows to serve more homeless kids, as well as enabling the 124 mostly low-cost, non-public schools scattered across the state to serve a critical role in educating our Oklahoma youths — all at a much lower cost to the taxpayer and without doing harm — and in fact enhancing — the critically important public education system.
Let us dispel three false myths about the proposal.
First is the myth that this reform takes money from public education. In reality, every single penny now designated to educate children will continue to pay to educate children if this measure becomes law. And the bill only involves money from the state funding formula for education, not local property taxes or federal funds.
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