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Charter Schools in Oklahoma are facing a setback in their fight for local funding. They provide unique educational opportunities for students and initially won their case to receive both state and local funding. However, the Oklahoma Board of Education soon reversed course on that decision. It recently helped create a bill in the Oklahoma Senate that affects educational choices for all families across the state. 

While public school advocates are generally pleased with the abrupt about-face, charter school supporters are concerned that the lack of local funding will dramatically affect their students and teachers. In particular, brick-and-mortar charter schools use their funding for building maintenance and teacher support, along with enrichment programs for students.

Charter schools fill in the gaps that public schools miss

Charter schools are also known as schools of choice. They work to mitigate educational discrepancies for families of lower socioeconomic status who live in communities with lower property taxes. As local property taxes are directly tied to school funding, these unique schools are a boon for students from marginalized communities. 

Public school supporters have long been wary of charter schools receiving equal funding, due to concerns about losing a portion of their own financial support. However, brick-and-mortar charter schools are an integrated aspect of public school districts. Notably, they provide a chance for more educational opportunities for students. Many aren’t able to have their needs met at traditional public schools.

The unique schools fill in these gaps by addressing the unique needs of students, providing choices for families from underserved communities. Historically, the two seemingly opposite types of education have worked together. Combined, they provide a variety of schooling options for students across Oklahoma. However, the Board of Education’s decision and subsequent reversal has created a schism between public and charter school advocates.

SB 229

Introduced in the aftermath of the struggle is Senate Bill 229, which would permanently limit local funding to charter schools, while ensuring that public school districts don’t lose money. Charters, meanwhile, would receive money from the taxation of marijuana sales in Oklahoma, an inconsistent source of financial support. 

Public school advocates appear pleased with the bill. It passed in the Senate 14-0, and now heads to the Oklahoma House for a vote. The Black Wall St Times will continue to update with information on Oklahoma education.

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...