A former educator, Rep. Ed Cannaday (D-Porum) is aware that educators struggle to maintain a semblance of routine and normalcy for their students as the state wrestles with budget problems.
But Cannaday, who represents western Sequoyah County, achieved a trifecta when three of his education-related bills were signed by Gov. Mary Fallin.
“This session, despite finding ourselves in the super minority within the legislature, it was incumbent upon our caucus to address the glaring needs of our children and the dedicated professionals who care for them each day, as if they were their own flesh and blood.” Cannaday said, after learning his three essential education bills had been signed into law by Fallin.
“We can work together to make important things happen, this is proof of that fact. The next item of business is the budget. Our public school administrators and their teams of classroom teachers are depending on us as never before to address what is now a crisis of trust. There is nothing more important than feeding our children to grow a healthy mind and body capable of learning and growing into productive Oklahomans. Any other priorities politically motivated and developed to give an advantage to entities least in need, are, in this desperate hour, simply immoral.”
HB1188, as introduced, relates to schools and unused sick leave. Language is added related to the Oklahoma School for the Blind or the Oklahoma School for the Deaf to allow for certain cumulative unused sick leave for an employed teacher in a school district to transfer to the Oklahoma School for the Blind or the Oklahoma School for the Deaf where the teacher is employed the next succeeding year.
Further, if a teacher is employed at the Oklahoma School for the Blind or the Oklahoma School for the Deaf after July 1, 2017, any unused sick leave up to 60 days that is accumulated at a school district prior to such date will be transferable.
HB1789 requires early childhood education, elementary education, and special education teachers to receive quality education in research-based instructional strategies for instruction, assessment, and intervention for literacy development of all students including advanced readers, English Language Learners, and students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and requires certain prospective teachers to be provided specified education. Certain teacher candidates will study specified strategies to adapt for individual learners.
HB 1790 allows each school district in the state to offer a remediation course for high school students who score below a 19 on the American College Testing exam or below an equivalent score on the SAT exam. A teacher providing instruction in the course is not required to be certified in any subject matter that is tested on either exam.
“I’d like to thank the advocates who so steadfastly worked for these improvements, over many years, and for the bi-partisan support I received from Senator Dewayne Pemberton, District 9, and Senator Frank Simpson, District 14, all of whom put aside party differences to finally make some progress for education.”
None of the measures add fiscal impact to contribute to the state’s budget issues. They do provide substantive relief to bring about major opportunities for students and teachers, in areas where Oklahoma has ranked poorly.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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