Henry said the bill would have, “turned back the clock on decades of education reforms.” "While local control is an important component of a successful public education system, it is also critical to have rigorous state standards in place to produce the highest quality graduates and ensure achievement and accountability throughout the system," the governor said.
The bill would have allowed public schools to operate as charter schools and free them from many of the state “unfunded” mandates. Some school administrators and schools boards supported the bill because it would have given them more local control. The Oklahoma State School Board Association, the Cooperative Council of School Administrators, the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition, the suburban and rural school associations, and the OKC, Tulsa, and State Chambers endorsed SB 834.
The Oklahoma Education Association, and State Superintendent for Education Sandy Garrett opposed it. They claimed the bill would have eliminated school librarians and counselors and would have made teachers “at will” employees. In reality, the bill gave local school boards and administrators the power to run their own districts and establish their own academic standards and rules. Henry said that one of his concerns was that local school administrators could ignore rigorous state standards and create their own academic benchmarks and rules under the bill. The exact opposite would have likely happened, because local school boards and administrators are very concerned about educating their children. Henry’s statement that local unpaid elected officials on the school board are not interested in education is elitist and condescending and he owes those people an apology.