Professional Oklahoma Educators (POE) conducts several member surveys on important education topics and bills each legislative session. These surveys help the POE government affairs team understand the thoughts, concerns, and positions of POE members on important legislative matters. The survey results direct POE’s lobbying efforts and provide firsthand data to lawmakers.
POE’s first survey of the 2022 Legislative Session covered four key topics: school vouchers/ESAs (SB 1647), school payroll deduction (SB 1380), class size limits (HB 3262), and classroom discipline (SB 1133). The POE government affairs team selected these topics based on a combination of factors, including relevance to Oklahoma teachers, current momentum at the Capitol, legislative authorship, and previous POE surveys.
1,881 POE members responded to the survey. The results are as follow:
Senate Bill 1647—The Oklahoma Empowerment Act
SB 1647 proposes a universal education saving account (ESA), generally referred to as a universal school voucher, for all Oklahoma students. Under the proposal, students would be eligible to use the voucher for any private school or other education-related expense. The voucher cannot be used in any public school district, public charter school, or magnet school. If a student receives a voucher and then enrolls in any public school, the voucher would be revoked. The worth of the voucher is expected to be around $5,000 and require approximately $174 million in annual funding from the state.
82.46% of POE members surveyed “oppose” or “strongly oppose” SB 1647. 8.35% “support” or “strongly support” the bill. And 9.2% were neutral.
Senate Bill 634 & Senate Bill 1380— Membership/Payroll Deduction
SB 634/1380 proposes to substantially alter the current payroll deduction process for school employees joining a professional organization. Under the proposed process, all payroll deductions to professional organizations would terminate each year and could be renewed only through a multistep process. The proposed process would require an individual to obtain a form from the Secretary of Education’s office, complete and turn the form into their school district, await a confirmation email from the district, and then respond to the confirmation email with an additional verification email each year. The new process is expected to require additional funding from local school districts for administrative duties, but the exact cost is likely to differ among school districts.
89.56% of POE members surveyed “oppose” or “strongly oppose” SB 1380. 2.65% “support” or “strongly support” the bill. And 7.79% were neutral.
House Bill 3264—Class size limitations
HB 3262 reinstates class size restrictions for all grades (K-12) conditional on available state funds. The bill also reduces the number of possible exemption waivers by making it more difficult for districts to qualify for a waiver. While HB 3262 implements a conditional system for reinstating class size restrictions for all grades (K-12), given the amount of available funds, the bill would likely reinstate class size restrictions for 2nd grade and potentially 3rd grade as well. However, if funding increases, more class size restrictions would be reinstated according to the procedures outlined in HB 3262.
61.87% of POE members surveyed “support” or “strongly support” HB 3264. 16.36% “oppose” or “strongly oppose” the bill. And 21.77% were neutral.
Senate Bill 1133—Classroom Discipline and Safety
SB 1133 establishes state procedures that authorize teachers to take certain disciplinary actions to create a safe learning environment within their classroom. Under the proposal, teachers would have the right to remove excessively disruptive students from their classes. The bill would also establish a review process to determine the placement of any student in question if the respective teacher were to refuse reentry into his or her class. If a teacher were to remove 25% or more of his or her class enrollment, then the teacher would be required to complete training on classroom management.