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Stitt, State Officials Take A Moment To Celebrate Education Policy Changes Made This Session

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Gov. Kevin Stitt hosted dozens of students at the capitol Tuesday afternoon to tout a broad range of education policy changes made during this legislative session.

Some of the bills sent to the governor addressed school transfer and funding formula changes he asked for, restored education funding cuts made last year and added more on top of that, and — in the words of some Republican lawmakers — banned the teaching of critical race theory. Another measure increased tax credits available for organizations providing private-school scholarships.

"Every step of the way, every policy decision was made with you in mind, the students, and I’m proud of our work and it is a great honor to have you all here today celebrating what has become the first of Oklahoma’s education turnaround year," Stitt told the students.

Stitt at one point again criticized districts that waited months to bring students back in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said while a lot was done this session, lawmakers are not done.

"We are not done fighting for every child in the state of Oklahoma, and we will continue to fight against those who are willing to leave children behind because they don’t fit their version of what traditional education should look like," Echols said.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who has rarely been at Stitt’s education-related events and has spoken against some changes, said everyone can find a new policy they support.

"We are seeing something big happen in Oklahoma, and it is the engagement of families, the engagement of communities, helping our students be ready for their next steps in learning, ready for postsecondary pursuits and ready for life," Hofmeister said.

Educators have expressed opposition to some of the policy changes, but a grant program to help underfunded public and brick-and-mortar charter schools has been well received. Stitt said Tuesday he plans to sign that bill when it reaches his desk.

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