Oklahoma "school choice" bill citing "climate change ideology" dies in committee

Storm clouds over Oklahoma.

Storm clouds over Oklahoma. Photo by Raychel Sanner on Unsplash.

Oklahoma's Senate Bill 943 (PDF), a "school choice" bill that cited "climate change ideology" as a potential justification to divert state education funds away from the state's public school system, died in committee on March 2, 2023, when the deadline for Senate bills to be reported from committee passed. The bill was initially sponsored by Shane Jett (R-District 17), later joined by Julie Daniels (R-District 29).

The bill would have allowed parents and guardians "to access educational services that meet the needs of their individual children by directing State Aid for which each child is eligible to the education provider of their choice," but in counties with a population of less than 10,000, only if the student is "eligible to enroll in a public school in this state that has been determined by a reporting agency to be a trigger district."

A trigger district was defined as one in which any of thirteen "concepts or activities have been advocated or tolerated," including "climate change ideology including, but not limited to, disparaging the oil and natural gas industry or the agriculture industry." No definition of "climate change ideology" was provided in the text of the bill, but the Tulsa World (January 23, 2023) understood the bill to be targeting districts "that teach about climate change."

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.