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School vouchers have emerged as the most critical issue dividing candidates in races for governor and state superintendent. On one side, you have Gov. Kevin Stitt and Ryan Walters, who support such programs. On the other, Joy Hofmeister and Jena Nelson are opposed.

If Stitt is re-elected, and especially if Walters also wins his race, school vouchers are pretty much guaranteed.

Voters, particularly in rural communities, are concerned vouchers could siphon critical funding from their schools, as reported this week by The Frontier and NonDoc.

But there’s another critical issue besides funding, and that is how voucher programs move away from a critical pillar of democracy: elected representatives.

Traditional schools are governed by an elected board. Parents and community members get to have a voice, through their vote, in who represents their interests on the board, which hires and fires the superintendent and oversees the district’s policies and finances.

Voucher schools don’t have elected boards. They also don’t have open meetings, and they aren’t bound by open records laws. These schools aren’t required to make public any data about their finances or student achievement, either.

Is this issue important to you, too? I’d love to hear from you via email or direct message.

Also, make sure to read my latest story on the state superintendent race, where I dig into several policy proposals from both candidates to answer the question “Can they do that?”

— Jennifer Palmer

Recommended Reading

  • In rural communities, residents grill Gov. Kevin Stitt over his school voucher plan. Stitt won Dewey County by 62 points in 2018, but some residents fear vouchers would siphon vital funding away from their small rural schools. [The Frontier]
  • Joy Hofmeister has been hammering the threat of school vouchers, which opponents say divert taxpayer money away from public schools to fund private schools. It’s shaping the governor’s race. [NonDoc]
  • Attorneys for Oklahoma still haven’t served ClassWallet with a lawsuit filed in August over misspent GEER funds. Other cases have moved faster. [FOX25]
  • The national conversation on education issues such as critical race theory, school choice, teacher pay and LGBTQ+ rights is playing out in the state superintendent race — one of the most heated down-ballot races in recent midterms history, according to one pollster. [PBS Newshour]

New on Oklahoma Watch

Oklahomans voters will choose between two candidates for for state schools superintendent Ryan Walters, left, and Jena Nelson, right. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

State Superintendent Race: Can The Candidates Do What They Propose?

Some policy proposals pitched by state superintendent candidates Ryan Walters and Jena Nelson aren’t really under the purview of that role, or would at least require approval of the board or legislature. [Read More]

Election 2022: How Oklahoma Counts and Certifies Votes

In anticipation of the Nov. 8 general election, Oklahoma Watch has prepared a guide on how Oklahoma counts and certifies votes. [Read More]

Stitt Cut Oklahoma’s Prison Population, Sentencing Alternatives Still Unfunded

Kevin Stitt campaigned to reduce the state’s prison population and help those re-entering communities. Voters mandated more of the latter than the governor or the Legislature has provided. [Read More]

The Stitt Record on the Economy, Workforce

Stitt touts several economic and workforce wins in his re-election bid. Metrics measured on the governor’s online dashboard tell a less rosy story. [Read More]

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