The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature and the bills and politics you need to know.
We are in the middle of the semester and the legislative session! There’s progress on both fronts, but this week, we’ll look at a couple bills that have good ideas but aren’t too far in the process of being accepted or rejected yet. If you relate to that in any way, I’m so sorry.
SB702: Truly, this is a simple bill. It requires that, “In the event the Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Water Resources Board and Department of Mines are involved in the same objective or project,” they share their findings with each other in a reasonable timeframe. That’s reasonable enough. And while we might hope for more rigorous requirements, it’s a good start. The bill has been introduced, although not yet read and assigned to a committee.
HB2641: This bill would create a task force to “study graduation credit requirements” for high schools until 2020. The task force would recommend changes to curriculum requirements that would create more personalized and responsive course loads for students, including internships, apprenticeships and other kinds of general rejiggering of class requirements. Members would include “a school curriculum director,” “a parent of a recent high school graduate from an Oklahoma public school” and others who would have insights into the school system as it currently stands.
In theory, it’s a phenomenal idea. Education is in dire need of restructuring, most specifically high schools. There is the fear that this would create undue pressure on high school students to plan their future at a young age in order to optimize their experience in high school — but honestly, if the system isn’t working now, then any change won’t be the end of the world. Maybe the task force will recommend bad changes that get implemented and then revoked. Or maybe they’ll recommend changes that don’t get implemented. But maybe real, helpful changes get made. It’s a chance worth taking. The bill has been introduced but not yet read or referred to a committee.