Oklahoma currently has over 100 one-hundred-percent disabled veterans who have been injured while serving in the line of duty and over 100 veterans who have been killed-in-action since September 11, 2001. In order to provide some financial assistance to these brave individuals and their families as well as to those surviving spouses and children of those killed-in-action, Senator Frank Simpson filed Senate Bill 486 this year creating the 9/11 G.I. Bill. This bill was approved unanimously Monday February 11th by the Senate Education Committee and was unanimously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday.
SB 486 would provide these 100 percent disabled veterans, their spouses and children with free tuition to any state technology center, college or university in Oklahoma.
“These disabled veterans laid their lives on the line. They no longer are able to serve in the military so we need to provide them the educational tools to find new employment,” said Simpson, R-Springer. “After sustaining such devastating injuries, a family’s finances can be greatly affected. I think it’s important that we help the spouses get additional education so they can get higher paying jobs as well as provide free education to the children of these heroes.”
Simpson pointed out that the spouses of paralyzed veterans usually have to find better employment to help support the family and often times they need a higher level of education to get higher paying jobs.
SB 486 will also provide free tuition to the surviving spouses and children of those killed-in-action or killed in the line of duty during Iraqi Freedom or Afghanistan Enduring Freedom.
The bill will now go before the full Senate for further consideration
Senate Communications Division
The Senate Appropriations Committees approved Senate Bill 576 Wednesday to change how school district funding is calculated. Currently, school districts can use the highest weighted average daily membership (ADM) of either of the previous two years, or the first nine weeks.
Under SB 576, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, school districts could only use the previous year or first nine weeks’ weighted ADM for the purposes of calculating the State Aid formula.
Senator Kyle Loveless is the Senate author of the measure and says the bill will ensure schools are getting the funds they actually qualify for which, in most cases, will lead to additional funding per student.
“By making this change, funding for school districts will be more exact as it will be based on the number of actual students accounting for recent transfers and student moves. School district numbers can fluctuate dramatically from semester to semester so it makes no sense why school districts would use attendance numbers that are two years old when they could have lost or gained hundreds of students during that time,” said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City. “Ultimately, this change will lead to an increase in funding per student, which is great news for school districts.” “More districts across the state will receive more money, depending on how fast they are growing. As we are trying to be more responsive and flexible to the needs of our education system, this is a tool that will help all children across Oklahoma.”
SB 576 passed the full appropriations by a vote of 11-10 with Chairman Clark Jolley breaking the tie vote. SB 576 will now go before the full Senate.
State Superintendent Janet Barresi will request $37.7 million in supplemental funding for this school year to the state Legislature next week to fund the flexible health benefits allowance for education employees, and reforms such as the Reading Sufficiency Act and Achieving Classroom Excellence remediation.
“This request comes on behalf of school superintendents,” State Superintendent Janet Barresi. “If approved, can be used by schools this year to help pay for programs that help children learn to read and be fully prepared for end-of-instruction tests.”
This will be made to a joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee on January 29. Superintendent Barresi in December submitted a budget request that asked for an increase of $289 million for the FY 2014 school year.
Included in this supplemental appropriations request is:
Senator David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, announced today that he’ll file legislation for the 2013 session that will empower parents to force positive changes in chronically low-performing schools. This so-called “parent trigger” law is depicted in “Won’t Back Down,” a major motion picture opening this Friday, September 28th.
A parent trigger allows parents at chronically low-performing schools to gather signatures and demand positive changes. If 51 percent of parents whose children attend a chronically low-performing school sign a petition, the parents may demand that the district transform the school. Those changes could include new leadership or staff at the school, or a transition into a charter school, which would provide the flexibility the school needs to improve.
“As a rule, I think local control of education is best, and there’s nothing more localized than the parents at a neighborhood school,” Holt said. “The parent trigger model isn’t going to work in every situation, and it’s only an option where everything else has probably already failed. But I think there’s something inspiring about giving parents who care a tool they can use to fundamentally change the failed school that is attempting to educate their children.”
The concept of a parent trigger law is depicted in a new major motion picture – “Won’t Back Down” – to be released this Friday. The movie stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter, Viola Davis, Ving Rhames and Rosie Perez. In the film, the characters played by Gyllenhaal and Davis fight to get the signatures necessary to improve the school their children attend. The movie is expected to be one of the most impactful considerations of modern education challenges since the 2010 documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’”.
Like many recent education reforms that empower parents and students, parent trigger laws have enjoyed nationwide bipartisan support and have been adopted in some of the nation’s most conservative and liberal states, including Texas and California. Holt will spend the rest of the interim working with interested parties to draft a parent trigger bill that meets Oklahoma’s needs, and will file the bill prior to the 2013 legislative session.
“I think everyone in the education system – school board members, administrators and teachers – want the best for our kids. But sometimes, we get trapped in the status quo and need a way out,” Holt said. “A parent trigger law in Oklahoma would provide a way to break old patterns, and empower the people that are most invested in success – parents and students – to set a new tone for their school.”
Americans for Prosperity Foundation will present a special Back to School movie night to honor Dr. Milton Friedman on September 25th, in recognition for the Nobel Laureate, his works, theories and contributions.
There will be a showing the film School Choice MythBusters.
The film is designed to put to rest many of the myths used by school choice opponents. The documentary film event is free…including popcorn and soft drink.
Location: Starworld 20 Theater, 10301 S. Memorial Drive, Bixby
Date & Time: Sept. 25, 7-9 p.m.
Cost: Free…including popcorn and drinks!
Guest Panelists: State Education Board Member Bill Price MythBusters Movie Producer James Price Rep. Jason Nelson Mark Lee Cantrell (tentative)
Experts at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy today reminded Oklahoma City Public School administrators that they should be concerned with educating students, instead of quashing support for outside universities shown by students who wear their t-shirts to school.
“Freedom of expression is a principle that Cooper will, hopefully, learn as his education progresses. Sadly, school officials are teaching him today that such expression is only allowed when it’s in support of the ‘right’ university,” said Audrey Spalding, education policy analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
A woman with the same name as Amy Sparks, associate executive director and chief lobbyist of the Oklahoma Education Association, was arrested Friday on a complaint of domestic abuse, Oklahoma City Police report.
Her arrest follows an incident in which police say Sparks’ girlfriend was beaten and bitten on the arm. Police arrested Sparks, 39, on complaints of domestic abuse and assault and battery.
Sparks was chief of staff for former Treasurer Scott Meacham.
In a related story, The Oklahoman has additional details about the incident and the arrest: http://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-police-arrest-girlfriend-of-a-woman-who-was-beaten-bitten/article/3694785#ixzz21bLUlmTl