OKLAHOMA CITY (OBV) – The Oklahoma Senate Education Committee gathered Wednesday to announce a slew of education bills which committee members say will build on last year’s education reform efforts through teacher pay raises and getting more teachers in classrooms.
The committee revealed the 28 education bills that they filed for the 59th Legislature, which begins next week.
Sen. Adam Pugh, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, led the news conference during which he and fellow committee members laid out their plan for the upcoming legislative session. Pugh, R-Edmond, was joined by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, Sen. Kristen Thompson, R-Edmond and Sen. Ally Seifried, R-Claremore, each a member of the committee.
The plan includes teacher pay raises, advanced reading criteria, initiatives to hire more teachers and higher education reforms.
“This plan is ambitious and will build on the successes we had last year,” Pugh said. “If we want to get to where we need to be to improve education in Oklahoma, we must put our priorities in the right places. This slate of legislation is targeted and will put us on the right trajectory to what Oklahoma kids deserve, while rewarding teachers working in our classrooms and deliver much needed reforms. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to see these measures come to fruition.”
The Oklahoma Legislature passed a historic $625-million education reform package last year, which also included significant pay raises for teacher and incentives to keep teachers in the classroom.
Teacher retention remains a priority, according to Thompson.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve put into this year’s education agenda. We are addressing important issues from teacher retention and recruitment to improving student outcomes,” Thompson said. “Oklahoma students deserve a high-quality education, every single day, so they are college, military or career ready when they graduate.”
The new bills helps students by helping teachers, Pemberton said.
“This comprehensive agenda will help strengthen our education system by better supporting our teachers, finding innovative ways to get more highly trained educators into the classroom, and providing more learning opportunities for our students,” Pemberton said. “This will continue to build on the tremendous accomplishments we’ve made in recent years for Oklahoma’s students and schools.”
Seifried wrote three of the bills, including one that creates an Oklahoma Teacher Recruitment Academy.
“I’m looking forward to building on the momentum we started last session to strengthen and reform education in Oklahoma,” Seifried said. “This plan focuses on critical areas to improve classroom learning and student outcomes, address the ongoing teacher shortage, and help support our local school districts and families.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said the Education Committee is doing good work to enrich education in Oklahoma.
“I commend my Senate colleagues, led by Senate Education Chairman Sen. Adam Pugh, who stood up today to discuss their education priorities for the upcoming legislative session,” Treat said. “I appreciate their commitment to education and the forward-thinking vision in their plan. While I continue to review all the education bills, I have entrusted and empowered them to pursue legislation they think is best to put Oklahoma education on the right path to success. Collectively, we all have the shared goal of better education outcomes for Oklahoma’s children, while supporting our teachers and schools.”
Each bill and its function is listed below.