To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

New Observercast

Freshman Legislator’s Criticism Misdirected

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BY MIKE W. RAY

Sunday’s Oklahoman newspaper informed us that first-term state Rep. Tom Gann, a Republican from Inola, is “concerned about local control after an attorney general’s opinion.”

Seems an AG’s opinion “confirms that the state Department of Education can overrule a local school board that rejects a charter school application.”

“I am disappointed to see our attorney general disregard local government and duly-elected representatives on a local school board,” Gann was quoted as saying. “Regardless of the pros and cons of charter schools versus public schools, this is a new, unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of the governor, who appoints every member of the SDE.”

To loosely paraphrase the Bible: As the GOP sows, so shall it reap.

Rep. Gann’s criticism is misplaced. In pointing a finger of blame, Gann need only look at his own Republican colleagues.

The genesis of his complaint can be traced to SB 782, which the Republican-controlled Legislature approved 28 months ago.

SB 782 permits the State Board of Education to sponsor a charter school if an application has first been denied by a local school district.

Authors of the measure were then-Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and former House Speaker Pro Tempore Lee Denney, R-Cushing.

The bill passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin, 35-7.

In the House of Representatives, SB 782 was endorsed on a 64-31 vote recorded on April 14, 2015. All 64 “aye” votes were cast by Republicans; voting in opposition were 26 Democrats and 5 Republicans.

Rep. Gann receives an “F” grade for insufficient homework on this issue.

Mike W. Ray, a veteran Oklahoma journalist, lives in Oklahoma City. He recently retired after four years as media director for state House Democrats.