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Analysis: SQ 744 trounced; reform gains fans

Oklahoma voters chose school reformer Janet Barresi as the state office as state superintendent. School reform is on the minds of the nation and the Sooner state as well. Photo provided

State Question 744 was pummeled in Oklahoma’s recent general election. In the returns, it seemed clear that the citizenry wants something better and likely different for schoolchildren, recent developments indicate.

As SQ 744 was flaming out, voters placed school reformer Janet Barresi into the state superintendent’s post, succeeding Sandy Garrett, who didn’t seek re-election.

Showings of school reform documentaries “Waiting for Superman” and “The Lottery” have been sweeping across the state and the nation to hungry audiences.

While the heavily OEA-backed Yes on 744 coalition was not as vocal in seeking media coverage after the defeat as during the campaign, a key organizer did send a message hinting of a willingness to find common ground.

On the group’s web site was the message, which read in part:

“On behalf of the YES on 744 coalition, I would like to thank all of the Oklahomans who stood up and let their voices be heard on Election Day. SQ 744 may not have passed, but we have elevated a serious problem, one that Oklahomans are concerned about.

…It is now time for all those politicians, businesses, and special interest groups that opposed SQ 744 to step up and help resolve this problem facing Oklahoma’s schools. We are ready to be part of that discussion because the crisis still exists despite the results of this election.

Thank you for all of your support.

Michael Kolenc

Campaign Manager, YES on 744”

But historically, the Oklahoma Education Association has vehemently opposed school choice – a seemingly resounding vote for the status quo.

Oklahomans for Responsible Government likewise said they were glad SQ 744 spawned a discourse on public education. They and like-minded activists believe that closer examination of current spending is also needed in order to attain the quality of education the citizenry clearly want.

Note: McGuigan is editor of CapitolBeatOK and also senitor editor at The City Sentinel, a weekly newspaper in Oklahoma City.

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