Sunday, March 28, 2010

Expanding Charter Schools to Logan County

The House of Representatives recently approved an importation education reform measure that I believe could have a significant impact on education in Logan County. House Bill 2753 is sponsored by Representative Lee Denney who represents part of eastern Logan County, including the town of Langston. Her legislation would enable Langston to play host to a charter school.

Currently, state law limits the establishment of charter schools to Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties where the constituents are ill-served by failing school districts. In the past, I have written about the importance of providing these individuals with relief and enabling their children to experience the opportunity of a quality education. However, it is important to realize that there are other areas of the state which are in significant need of education alternatives and school choice. One of these areas is the Logan County community of Langston where Representative Denney has heard from her Langston constituency about the need for a charter school in the town.

This proposal would have several exciting potential applications. A Langston charter school would not only return a common eduction opportunity to the town of Langston, but this school could also be integrated with the University of Langston. Students participating in the charter school could progress through a system which prepared them for and provided them with a seamless integration into the college experience.

In other words, students would be expected not just to complete 12 grades of common education schooling, but 16 grades of common and higher education schooling. This education strategy would match that which is implemented in the highly successful KIPP charter school system about which I have written in the past. This integration with the college environment could also provide Langston college students with the opportunity to practice teaching in an on-campus environment where they could receive real-world teaching experience.

One of the most exciting aspects surrounding the passage of House Bill 2753, was the margin by which it passed the Legislature. The bill received a bi-partisan composition of 63 votes. In 2007, legislation expanding charter schools received 51 votes and was approved by just one vote. I believe this expanding margin of support has been made possible by the many success stories the charter school environment has produced over the past few years. It is becoming harder and harder for defenders of the status quo to demonize change.

If House Bill 2753 is approved, I hope the Langston community will take advantage of this reform to enable better education opportunities for Logan County residents.

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