If you think the title for this post is pure hyperbole, you haven’t read Senate Bill 1187 closely enough. Among the atrocious things this piece of legislation — passed by the Oklahoma Senate 25-20 on Thursday — does is remove the requirement for school districts to hire certified teachers or do background checks on the “adjunct” teachers they hire.
So yes, it is totally possible that your kindergartners could soon be learning the ABC’s from a convicted drug fiend. Your high school daughter could have a repeat woman beater as her PE teacher. And who better to teach Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” than a fella who’s actually cut up and hidden a human body?
On the plus side, those unchecked, uncertified teachers won’t have to worry about the stigma of having the 49th lowest paycheck for teachers, because SB1187 also eliminates the requirement for school districts to even meet that laughable standard.
Here’s a summary of what SB1187 does, provided by the Professional Oklahoma Educators:
- Eliminate the teacher’s minimum salary schedule.
- Eliminate the requirement for school districts to participate in the Oklahoma Teacher’s Retirement System (OTRS).
- Eliminate school district provided health insurance.
- Eliminate criminal background checks on school employees.
- Eliminate teacher evaluation and due process protections.
- Eliminate payroll deduction.
- Eliminate due process protections for support staff.
- Eliminate all certification requirements for all school district positions.
- Eliminate negotiations between a school district and employees.
- Eliminate student curriculum requirements.
- Eliminate required continuing education for local board of education members.
I have never been more ashamed to be a registered Republican, and my party has been responsible for some pretty stupid shenanigans in the state legislature here. I have written to my local senator, Anthony W. Sykes, to tell him how disgusted I am by his vote in favor of SB1187, and to my representative in the State House, Paul Wesselhoft, to encourage him to vote against the measure when it comes to the floor of the House on Monday. Since Wesselhoft voted against tapping the Rainy Day Fund to help schools finish the current fiscal year earlier this week, I don’t hold out much hope of him doing the right thing.
Perhaps he was taught to spell “EMERGNCY” and the governor’s surname by an adjunct educator.
In the interest of being fair and balanced, you can click here to read the text of the actual bill. And here’s an editorial written by two small school district administrators (not teachers) and published by the online arm of one of my former employers.
Oklahomans, please click here to find your legislators. Write to your person in the House of Representatives and demand they kill SB1187.
Personally, I would love to see a recall of the 25 senators who voted in favor of SB1187.