Coalition supports public charter schools

To the Editor:
There is no issue more vital to the future of our state than the education of our children. Oklahoma has momentum—strong economic growth and low unemployment—but for that to continue we must see that Oklahoma students are receiving a world-class education. For that reason, we are proud to support the Oklahoma Public Charter School Accountability and Authorization Act, Senate Bill 573, by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Lee Denney.
Charter schools are not a panacea, but we believe they are a part of the solution for ensuring every Oklahoma student gets the education he or she deserves. Public charter schools are giving more than 2.5 million students across America new options for a high-quality education. More Oklahoma families deserve the option of charter schools, and we must increase accountability to make sure that charter schools are delivering on their promises of quality. This legislation does both.
S.B. 573 would allow charter schools outside of Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, wherever parents and educators see a need. At the same time, the bill would hold charters accountable for student performance and close those charter schools that fail to deliver a quality education.
Oklahoma City and Tulsa have seen some remarkably successful charters. At the KIPP Reach College Preparatory School in Oklahoma City, 89 percent of students are African-American or Hispanic, and 75 percent come from low-income  families.  On  the  state’s  reading,  math,  and  science  tests,  these   middle-school students are out-performing their peers in Oklahoma City and across the state. By the eighth grade, 91 percent of students are at or above grade level in reading and 86 percent are at or above grade level in math.
We should do all we can to help more students reach these heights, regardless of where they live. According to a recent poll, 75 percent of Oklahomans think rural families should have the same choices  available  to  families  in  the  state’s  cities.  
The future of our children — and our state — starts with an outstanding education. By creating more high-quality charter schools in Oklahoma communities, parents and teachers can put more students on a path to success.
Sincerely, Robert J. Ross
Ken Levit, executive director
George Kaiser Family Foundation

Fred Morgan, president and CEO
Oklahoma State Chamber
Chris Brewster, President
Oklahoma Charter School Association
Bill Price, OCPA Trustee &
Education Reform Advocate
Roy Williams, President & CEO
Greater OklahomaCity Chamber
John M. Tidwell, State Director
Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma
Greg Richmond, President and CEO
National Associaiton of Charter School Authorizers
Nina Rees, President and CEO
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools 

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