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State Representative Rhonda Baker Elected Vice Chair of Southern Legislative Conference Education Committee

The City Sentinel, Staff Report 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, recently was elected vice chair of the Education Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC).

Baker, a former teacher, currently serves in the Oklahoma Legislature as the chair of the House Common Education committee.

“What an honor to be elected by my national peers to be vice chair of this important committee,” Baker said. 

“Oklahoma has made enormous strides in recent years in funding education and crafting reforms to help improve student outcomes. I look forward to sharing our work with other legislators and learning from their experience as well.”

The mission of the Southern Leadership Conference is to promote and strengthen intergovernmental cooperation among its 15 member states. 

As vice chair of the Education Committee, which comprises members from each of the 15 states represented by the SLC, Baker will assist the committee’s chair, South Carolina Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Little River, in guiding the committee’s policy focus and projects, including programming for the 76th Annual Meeting to be held in Oklahoma City, in July 2022.

Recent policy issues addressed by the committee include assessing learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, project-based learning, increasing access to school-based health centers, and an analysis of school counselor legislation in Southern states.

In 2017, Baker completed the SLC’s Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills program, the South’s premier professional development program for elected and appointed Southern state officials.

Prior to being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2016 and re-elected for a second term in 2018, Baker was a middle school English teacher. She spent nearly two decades in the profession at the middle school, high school and collegiate level. 

Baker was appointed to serve as chair of the House Common Education Committee when she was a freshman lawmaker. In addition to that position, she also is a member of the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommitteefor Education. She also is a member of the House full Appropriations & Budget Committee and serves as an assistant majority floor leader.

Baker was presented with the Rising Star Award by the State Chamber of Commerce for her role as a legislative leader in the business community. She was honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the Regents for Higher Education for her work and support in the 2019 session. 

Additionally, she was one of 11 select legislators chosen from a pool of legislative applicants within the Southern region to attend the Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS), and was one of two legislators chosen as an Early Learning Fellows from NCSL. She has been honored to serve as a Commissioner on the Commission of the Status of Women (OCSW). 

The women’s commission has, according to its official website, “30 members who serve staggered five-year terms; 10 members are appointed by the Governor, 10 by the [Senate] President Pro Tempore and 10 by the [House] Speaker.” 

According to the commission website, OCSW is a “non-partisan state Commission, and we help enable women to make their maximum contribution to society. We do not provide direct services; instead, we inform and educate the Legislature, Executive, and Oklahoma citizens about women’s issues. We partner with other organizations and agencies statewide to provide resource information, expertise and input on women’s issues.”

Rep. Baker is a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a master’s degree in Education.

She and her husband, Les, also an educator, are business owners. They have three children and one grandson.

NOTE: Rhonda Baker serves District 60 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Caddo and Canadian counties, west of Oklahoma City. Pat McGuigan contributed to this report. 

Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, recently was elected vice chair of the Education Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference.