Oklahoma House Republicans plan numerous education studies

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report 
OKLAHOMA CITY – House Republicans have planned a total of 17 interim studies focusing on various aspects of K-12 and higher education.

Among the studies are one by Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, that will focus on making Oklahoma a Top 10 state for college attendance and graduation through methods that improve both.
“A college degree is an entry into a higher-paying career and a better quality of life for Oklahoma students,” Echols said. “Increasing the number of college graduates in our state also signals to employers that Oklahoma has a skilled and ready workforce, which has the potential to grow our overall economy. This brings benefits for all state residents.”

Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, meanwhile, has requested interim studies on educational management organizations and charter school sponsors. 
Dills has authored several bills that have increased transparency and accountability of charter school spending and regulations. Her studies this interim will review contractual agreements, competitive bidding, purchasing requirements and best practices among other topics.
“Educational choices are important to parents and students in Oklahoma,” Dills said, “But we want to make sure that our charter school sponsors and educational management organizations are transparent in their use of taxpayer’s dollars and adhering to state law.”

Other interim studies scheduled before the House Common Education and Higher Education committees include one by Appropriations & Budget Vice Chair Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, that will examine public school districts that have used their federal COVID relief funds to help ensure student success during this academic year.

Hilbert wrote in his study request that the study will highlight successful, innovate programs, and explore opportunities to expand and continue these programs beyond the availability of federal relief funds. He suggests examining the public-school portion of Equal Opportunity Scholarships Funds included this year in Senate Bill 1080.

Another study poses the question: Higher education and engineering, a matter of national security – are we there yet? The study by Rep. Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City, will focus on higher education engineering and aerospace engineering programs and how they particularly could impact national security.

Common Education Chair Rhonda Baker has three education interim studies planned. Topics include ways to address the teacher shortage, including teacher certification and teacher quality; computer science education in Oklahoma public schools from elementary to high school; and a joint study with the Senate examining how COVID affected learning outcomes and ways to bring students back to level, spanning from kindergarten through college freshmen.

Interim studies will be scheduled from Aug. 2 through Nov. 5. Speaker of the House Charles McCall, R-Atoka, approved 117 studies this year, an unusually high number.