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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: May 13, 2009

Sen. John Ford
Sen. John Ford


Senator John Ford said Wednesday he was disappointed the Governor vetoed Senate Bill 586 which allows charter schools to be sponsored by a federally recognized Indian tribe.

Ford, author of SB 586, said Wednesday that the Governor’s veto prevents students and parents from receiving quality choices in education.

“Oklahoma has over 600,000 students, and not all learn the same way,” said Ford who represents Craig, Nowata and Washington Counties in the State Senate. “It is important to have a variety of education options for students and parents including public, private and home schooling as well as charter schools.”

Charter schools are public schools established by contract with sponsors. They are allowed in 41 states and the District of Columbia, and charter schools are freed from many laws and regulations. They often promote a specific curriculum or learning style.

Senate Bill 586 would have also allowed a statewide public school teachers organization to contract with a sponsor to establish a charter school, and was supported by the Oklahoma Education Association.

Representative Jabar Shumate, co-author of SB 586 said, "It caught me by surprise that the Governor decided to veto Senate Bill 586. The bill was historic in the fact that it was a bi-partisan effort that garnered broad support from organizations like the Oklahoma Education Association, which in the past has scrutinized charter school proposals."

Shumate also said after reading the veto message, "There may have been a misunderstanding because the veto message alludes to the Governor's concern that Native American tribes would operate or organize schools, a function that he finds duplicative. But the bill allows a tribe to authorize a school which is different from organizing or operating one."

Ford added that Native American tribes would be an excellent partner in Oklahoma’s charter school program.

“Even President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are supporters of charter schools and the reforms they bring. We recognize it is critical to continue making these opportunities readily available to enhance Oklahoma’s education and I hope the Governor will help our efforts to expand our students’ options in the future.”

For more information contact:
Sen. Ford's Office - 405-521-5634

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