Well, I’m disappointed but hardly surprised that the Republican-controlled Oklahoma House of Representatives passed SB 834 – the so-called “School District Empowerment Program” – which frees local school boards from various state mandates. Gutting stupid unfunded mandates would be fine, but the bill is also a union-buster that strips teachers of their collective bargaining rights.
All of my local legislators voted for the bill – one even authored it! The thing returns to the Senate, which is expected to pass the amended version. So it will almost certainly be up to Governor Henry to sign or veto the legislation. I’ve sent him a note urging him to veto it and thus preserve our place at the bargaining table. If he doesn’t, or if a bill like this passes after he leaves office, it will be that much harder to recruit new teachers in Oklahoma. We’ll be able to undercut some of the lowest pay in the nation with the added disincentives of no right to bargain salary or working conditions and no impartial court hearing if the board fires you. Doesn’t sound much like “empowerment” to me.
Have an opinion on SB 834? Contact Governor Henry.