After the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA), the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA), and others falsely claimed that the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program is a voucher, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) Chairman Larry Parman, and OCPA President Jonathan Small released the following statements:
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating:
“I was shocked and saddened to read the false statements by OSSBA, CCOSA, and others claiming the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program is a voucher. A voucher provides government funding for a student to go to a school of their choice. The scholarships provided through the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program are privately funded. These groups have a right to oppose the scholarship program—which actually helps Oklahoma’s rural public schools and most vulnerable students—but their statements and lobbying in opposition should steer clear of an impossibility of truth.”
OCPA Chairman Larry Parman:
“OSSBA, CCOSA, and others seek to deny families the opportunity for a better education for their children by claiming—without evidence—that the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program is a voucher program that robs public schools of state funding. That is no surprise considering both serve as lobbyists for public school boards and public-school administrators. In fact, the scholarship does not use any state funds. Instead, it encourages private citizens to provide a scholarship that helps families trapped in a poorly performing or unsuitable school. In the face of low test scores and no evidence of ability to remedy the situation, we should unlock educational options by expanding the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program and let parents decide what is best for their children.”
OCPA President Jonathan Small:
“The false statements regarding the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program by OSSBA, CCOSA, and others are stunning. If these groups want to criticize voucher programs—Medicaid, child care assistance through the Department of Human Services, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program, or Oklahoma’s Promise, for example—they are well within their rights to do so. But they ought not falsely claim that something is a voucher when it is not.
“The Equal Opportunity Scholarship program, according to statutorily imposed limitations, provides a non-refundable credit against state taxes owed by individuals or corporations who make donations to scholarship or granting organizations. These organizations provide scholarships from private funds to assist students in obtaining an alternative education that better meets their needs or to cover innovative programs in public schools.
“It’s sad that these groups and others desperately resort to fabrications in order to try to block raising the cap on this program. Oklahoma’s Equal Opportunity Scholarship program is similar to programs in 17 other states, its structure has been found constitutional, and it has been found by an independent study to generate $2.91 in government savings for every $1 in tax-credit value.”