Thursday, May 5, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Mary Fallin signed two education reform measures into law Wednesday.
Senate Bill 346 ends "social promotion" for students after the third grade.
It requires third-graders to be proficient in reading before moving on to the fourth grade.
House Bill 1456 sets a grading system for schools based on an A to F scale.
"It is a very exciting day for Oklahoma, a very exciting day for Oklahoma school children and an exciting day for improving education in the state of Oklahoma," Fallin said at a bill-signing ceremony in the governor's large conference room.
HB 1456 will increase accountability in education and empower parents, Fallin said.
"With that system in place, parents will now have the ability to quickly and easily be able to evaluate the quality of education that our children are receiving," she said.
"I believe it will also encourage teachers and our administrators to continue to improve the education system and actually hold them accountable when they do not."
State Superintendent Janet Barresi said the measure will increase parent participation and community support in schools.
"This gives parents an opportunity to actually know what is going on in their child's school," said Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, the House author of HB 1456. "It is hard to understand what needs improvement or failing means, but when we say you are in an A school, you are in a B school, parents know what that means."
SB 346 raises the bar by phasing out social promotion, Fallin said.
"If our children are not able to read at grade appropriate level, they can't learn the math, the science, the social studies as they continue to go through the education system," she said.
The state does a great disservice to children, parents and the work force when children are passed from grade to grade without grade-appropriate reading skills, Fallin said.
Barresi said: "Folks, it is about literacy. If a child can't read, they can't learn."
She said the bills aren't a cure-all for education but are a part of the overall answer.
Previous education measures signed by Fallin include HB 2139, which removed the state Board of Education's power over the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
She also signed HB 1380, which eliminates a teacher's right to appeal a firing in district court, a process called "trial de novo."
By BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau