Teacher groups come out against bill letting parents fire teachers in failing schools

TULSA - Parents upset with the performance of their child's school may soon be able to directly intervene if new legislation is passed by Oklahoma lawmakers.

"If we have schools that have not performed well in the last three or four years, something is broken," said Jabar Shumate, State Senator from Tulsa.

McLain High School has had 17 different principals in the last 25 years. Sen. Shumate thinks parents there should have more influence in how the school is run.

"I understand the district is working hard to fix problems," says Sen. Shumate, "but you don't have four years to waste when you have a child that you hope to see through college."

Sen. Shumate is a co-sponsor of the Parent Empowerment Act. Under the measure, which cleared the state senate this week, parents at a public school may petition to fire its administrators or change it to a charter school.

Lynn Stockley, President of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, finds the bill insulting to hard-working teachers.

"It's just a huge slap in the face to teachers. To think your doing such a bad job that we're going to let somebody else come in," Stockley said.

Parents can initiate the petition process if the school under-performs for three years in a row. Any changes require the approval of a majority of the students' parents.

Stockley argues that the state's formula for evaluating school sites, the controversial A-F grading system, is not an accurate measure of performance.

"What you're doing is setting up a new system based on flawed evidence that we have right now," said Stockley.

The bill will be heard in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

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