Monday, May 13, 2019
Hicks' should enbrace new ideas in moving Oklahoma education forward!
Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
Governor Kevin Stitt has nominated Estella Hernandez and Jennifer Monies to serve on the Oklahoma state school board. The nominations require Senate confirmation.
Mrs. Hernandez was brought to the United States from El Salvador by her mother when she was six years old because her mom was escaping a civil war and wanted a better life for herself and her children. Estela became a U.S. naturalized citizen at age 18 as soon as it was legal to do so. She still attends the monthly nationalization ceremonies at the federal courthouse in OKC where she helps register the new citizens to vote. She and her husband Zeke have two daughters and one son. She is a licensed realtor and she and her husband run a construction company. Hernadez is a former Vice Chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party, spokesperson for Mundo Fox- Oklahoma City and briefly worked for conservative think-tank Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs(OCPA).
Mrs. Monies lives in OKC and has two children. She is an award winning journalist who has worked for Congressional Quarterly and The Oklahoman. She served as press and policy advisor for the Oklahoma state House of Representatives, and ran an education nonprofit organization. She now works for Saxum, an OKC based Public Affairs Company.
Traditionally, the senator from the nominee’s district carry/present the nominations to the Senate. It is more of a formality than a necessity, and in the past even those from opposing political Parties carried their constituent’s nomination to the body. But last week that changed. Senate Carrie Hicks, (D-OKC) announced that she will not carry Hernandez and Monies’ nominations because she says they support school choice(vouchers) and local school board control. “Both pretty well indicated that they would use the power the state Legislature has entrusted into them to override those local school board decisions. That’s just a disagreement that I can’t support,” Hicks said. Hicks’ refusal to carry the nominations doesn’t kill them, but her state reasons for not doing it bring up some interesting questions:
First, what is wrong with school choice? Why is Oklahoma public education so afraid of competition? If they believe they are doing a good job, then why oppose a parent’s right to choose to take their tax money and spend it as they please on their child’s education? Good schools don’t require compulsory tax support and bad ones don’t deserve it.
Second, what is wrong with local school board control? Local schools should have the flexibility to adapt. Centralized mandates on education from ivory towers haven’t resulted in Oklahoma’s common ed producing better results. Expanding local control of education should be something every Oklahoman supports.
Senator Hicks is one of only nine Democrats in the Senate and her unwillingness to carry the nominations will not likely result in two qualified nominees not being confirmed. But as a former classroom teacher, Hicks should recognize what Oklahoma has been doing in common education is not working and embrace new ideas from qualified citizens. Contact your state senator and encourage them to support the nomination of both these state school board nominees.